Springfield — Just a bit over a month after hiring a new Chief of Staff, and a new communications director, following the legislature’s override of his Budget veto, multiple reports on Wednesday night say Gov Rauner is now firing members of his communications staff, including the new communications director he just hired six weeks ago, who came from Wisconsin.
On Thursday morning, the Governor’s office released a statement saying, “Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl have submitted their resignations to the Office of the Governor. We are grateful for their hard work on behalf of the people of Illinois and wish them all the best going forward.”
The statement added that Elizabeth Tomev is now acting communications director.
In recent weeks, there’s been several embarrassing moments in the Rauner administration. Following his Amendatory Veto of SB-1, the Education Funding bill, Gov Rauner told reporters at a press conference, that “a simple majority” of lawmakers could implement his changes, only to have reporters inform the Governor, that it would take a 3/5’s super majority to pass any new legislation, now that the legislature was past its May 31 deadline.
And this past week, following the release of a cartoon by the Illinois Policy Institute [where Chief of Staff Rasmussen served as a VP until her appointment], that showed a black child begging on the street for education funding, from a character depicted as a white man, labeled as a TIF district.
Following the release of the cartoon, some attacked it as being racist and asked the Governor’s office to respond. The result was a major embarrassment for the Rauner team, as a statement had the Governor allegedly saying “as a white male” I cannot comment on whether the cartoon was racist. This was met with harsh commentary, and widely mocked.
And this led to the firings of the communications staff on Wednesday night.
On Thursday in Naperville, the Governor said he had a chance to look at the cartoon, said he could understand how some were upset by it, but declined to say whether he thought it was racist, saying it was not his job to respond to cartoons and other items that are produced by outside the governor’s office.
Gov Rauner did say, “What I will do every day is fight for justice, fairness and equality.” He then added that the state is on the verge of historic economic change and noted his fight to make education funding fairer.
What is known, as we move into Thursday, is that the race for governor is heating up by the day, and the Rauner administration continues to find itself struggling to have a coherent message about the direction they wish to go to effect positive change for Illinois. Nor are they projecting an image that leaves Illinois citizens confident that this administration can win the battles it chooses to take on.