Barely a month after firing his chief of staff and communications aides, Gov. Bruce Rauner appears to be in the process of doing the same thing again.
Numerous Springfield sources say the new team Rauner brought in last month—most of them from the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute—are heading for the exits after an embarrassing situation this week in which Rauner retracted a statement put out via staff saying he couldn’t comment on an allegedly racist cartoon posted by the Institute because he was a “white male.”
Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick did not answer calls and her email was automatically directed to other officials who did not respond. But among those reportedly on the hit list are chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen, who insiders say authorized the “white male” statement, and communications director Diana Rickert.
Word of the second shakeup became instant political fodder for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker.
“In a move straight out of the Trump playbook, Bruce Rauner has reportedly fired his communications team, who were just 37 days on the job,” the Pritzker campaign said in a statement. “There is a problem that no amount of staff changes can fix, and his name is Bruce Rauner.”
If the turnover is as widespread as it appears—and as of this writing, the administration has yet to confirm these actions or describe their extent—the changes will throw Rauner’s re-election effort into chaos. One top Republican operative had a three-letter response when I emailed him about the matter last night: “WTF.”
All of this occurs as Rauner is attempting to hold Republican votes and sustain his veto of a school funding bill that top Democrats dearly would like to override. Expect lots more fallout today.