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Rauner’s Office in Disarray (Again) As He Struggles to Respond to a Cartoon

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Prairie State Purge 2.0 – Rauner Fires Staff He Hired Just a Month Ago in Last Purge

Rauner Fires Top Staff in the Middle of Major Education Funding Fight

Last night, Governor Bruce Rauner commenced a staff purge targeting staffers he brought in just weeks ago, during his last purge. In early July, Bruce Rauner suffered an embarrassing defeat when a group of bipartisan lawmakers overrode his veto of the state’s first budget in two years. Rauner decided to clear house and 21 people were fired or resigned. He replaced much of his top aides with members of the right-wing think tank Illinois Policy Institute believing it could solve his communications problems.
It has not been a good month for Rauner’s new inexperienced staff:

  • The bodyman was hired and fired on the same day for homophobic and racist tweets;
  • A comms staffer had to explain her past writings comparing abortion to Nazi eugenics;
  • A policy staffer got into a twitter fight over the rules of a blog’s comment section;
  • Rauner was repeatedly unprepared for basic questions about his policy;
  • Rauner was criticized for his office’s slow response to major flooding;
  • And more.

It all came to a head last week. The still existent Illinois Policy Institute published a cartoon many deemed racist and which drew immediate and bipartisan condemnation on the Illinois House Floor. For a week, Rauner’s team fumbled its response to the cartoon; Rauner refused to condemn the it, refused to look it, and proceeded to argue that some people did not find it offensive. On Tuesday, Rauner’s office produced dueling statements. The first said Rauner, “as a white male”, had nothing more to add to the debate. The second read “Earlier today an email went out from my office that did not accurately reflect my views.” The second statement did not condemn the cartoon or add much to the debate, however.
So, Rauner begins again. The details are still fuzzy but Rauner’s Prairie State Purge 2.0 includes most of his communications staff, with others potentially later.
The timing could not be worse – Rauner’s in the middle of a major political fight he started by issuing an amendatory veto of the state’s education funding formula. Rauner’s veto was seen as extreme and influenced by his then-new Illinois Policy Institute staffers. Illinois schools are opening their doors unsure if they would survive past October as lawmakers try and deal with the veto. Rauner’s plan has not received much support – it was already overridden in the Senate, and received zero votes in the House.
“At no time has Bruce Rauner ever taken responsibility for the consequences of his failed leadership, and this recent staff purge suggests he is not about to start,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “As Governor, Bruce Rauner forced the state through a two-year budget crisis that was only ended over his objection. Debt piled up, social services were cut or closed, and jobs and people fled the state. Now Rauner is pushing the school system to closure for political gain. No staff purge can solve the problem at the center of this administration – Bruce Rauner.”