August 18, 2017

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Illinois, Latest News

Rauner Bizarrely Tries to Refute Fact That Illinois Policy Institute Has Taken Over His Office

Rauner Suddenly Shy That His Top Aides All Come from IPI or Other Right-Wing Organizations

 

In a day that featured Governor Bruce Rauner debating the finer points of the definition of “terrorism”, Rauner sat for an interview with Amanda Vinicky on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. In a wide-ranging conversation, Rauner refused to identify any budget cuts he will pursue, claimed the Democratic Party’s “Resistance” movement was geared against him (and not President Trump), and dropped this whopper on the audience:

 

Amanda Vinicky: Governor after your budget you did make some significant changes to your staff. In fact, most of your top aides now come from the Illinois Policy Institute. 

Governor Rauner: That is not true.

Vinicky: It’s not?

Rauner: Most of my aides do not come from –

Vinicky:  Most of your top aides, I said. Not all of your aides.

Rauner: No. No.

Vinicky: Really? The Chief of Staff, the top of your…head legislation liaison, your head policy chief, the head of communications?

Rauner: Okay so that is three. How many leaders do I have? I’ve got dozens. And my Chief Operating Officer comes from Georgia. My head legal counsel – Indiana. Head of Corrections from Iowa. We have people from all over the nation who are best at running state government as well as business leaders and government leaders from Illinois from all backgrounds and we have Democrats and as well as Republicans leading our administration.”

 

Amanda Vinicky named four, but here is a full list compiled from news clips:

  • Kristina Rasmussen – Chief of Staff
  • Michael Lucci – Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
  • Diana Rickert – Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications
  • Darlene Senger – Deputy Chief of Staff of Legislative Affairs
  • Jean Hutton – Assistant Chief of Staff
  • Madelyn Harwood – Policy Analyst
  • Meghan Keenan – Communications Specialist

This list does not include Rauner’s new Director of CommunicationsWashington DC liaisonChief Strategic Advisor for his campaign apparatus, or (short-lived) body man all of whom are products of other national and local right-wing think tanks. There is no getting around the fact that Rauner has turned over his political operation to the Illinois Policy Institute and other like-minded organizations. Illinois reporters have already started seeing the “influence” of his staff on policy, most notably the inclusion of TIFF provisions in Rauner’s SB1 Amendatory veto. But he right that his new staff won’t change the problem at the center of this administration – Bruce Rauner and his failed leadership.

 

If Rauner’s convinced that he needed to shake up his staff and bring in these staffers, why is he suddenly ashamed to admit who he brought in?

 

“At the end of a terrible month, Bruce Rauner seems suddenly shy about the fact he turned over the governor’s office to a bunch of right-wing ideologues,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “After lawmakers from both parties overrode his budget veto, Rauner could have turned to focus on helping Illinois families. Instead, he doubled-down on the same failed politics that lead the state to a two-year budget impasse, and now threaten schools’ ability to stay open.”