Gov. Rauner’s Abrupt Staff Shake Up Is Still Haunting Him

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AP Photo/Seth Perlman File

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is taking criticism for floundering during an exchange with a reporter over a recent staff shakeup, which has caused several headaches for the administration.

In a recent television interview, WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky questioned Rauner on how his recent staff shakeups led to a huge chunk of new hires coming from the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. A smiling Rauner replied that most of his aides didn’t come from the organization.

“Now that’s not true,” Rauner said. “Most of my aides do not come from there. No.”

“How many leaders do I have,” Rauner continued. “I’ve got dozens. My chief operating officer comes from Georgia. My head legal counsel—Indiana. Head of Corrections, from Iowa. We’ve got people from all over the nation that are the best at running state government.”

In fact, seven of Rauner’s top aides, including his Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, have had direct ties with the Institute. And at least four others—including his short lived “body man” who was fired for homophobic tweets—have ties to other right-wing think tanks.

The JB Pritzker campaign, who posted video of the exchange on Youtube, said “either Bruce Rauner expects us to believe that his senior advisors are not really advising him, or that Rauner was actually just this radical to begin with.”

“Considering Bruce Rauner cleaned house to retool his messaging, you would think he might be able to get some better answers,” Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “Then again, even ‘the best team in America’ can’t spin their way out of this mess. Bruce Rauner is a failed leader of historic proportions, desperately lurching to the right as Illinois families pay the price.”

The Democratic Governor’s Association also seized the opportunity to go after the governor.

“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 its 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.”

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