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“Smoke to Cover Peoples Butts” – Emails Show Rauner’s Admin Focused on PR During Quincy Outbreak

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One Family Asks – Would Their Father Would Still Be Alive If State Told Public Sooner

Late last night, WBEZ reported on a trove of emails obtained from Adams County officials as they sought to handle the 2015 Quincy Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12. The emails show Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration extremely interested in managing the public relations spin of the outbreak. Rauner’s staff even praised their work to “rebut” a Facebook post written by one of the deceased’s family members questioning the timeliness of the state’s response. The head epidemiologist at Quincy’s Blessing Hospital chaffed that one proposed press release was “poorly written, confusing and in my view just a smoke to cover peoples [sic] butts.”
While Rauner’s PR machine went to work, families like the Millers were left behind. Eugene Miller died in 2015 of Legionnaires’, and his children have sought to have one question answered: if they state informed the public sooner, would their father still be alive?
More than two years later, they still don’t have the answer.
“Today’s revelations confirm that Bruce Rauner is more concerned with saving his own skin than working to solve the problem at the state-run Quincy Veterans’ Home,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner’s knee-jerk praise for his administration’s response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak is a failure of leadership. The truth is Rauner and his staff bungled the outbreak response, and their refusal to own up to their mistakes is failing veterans and their families.”