Rauner staffers resign after political cartoon controversy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- There was another shakeup in Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's administration Thursday. Four staff members from his communication team have resigned.

Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications Diana Rickert, Director of Communications Laurel Patrick and communications specialists Brittany Carl and Meghan Keenan all resigned, the governor's office announced Thursday.

Two of the staffers who resigned came from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.

There is no word on why they resigned, but it comes on the heels of a controversial cartoon and a statement his staff sent out responding to that image, which many people consider racist.

The governor was in southwest suburban Naperville Thursday to sign a bill to end pension double-dipping for police officers. As it turns out, he spent a lot more time talking about the turmoil in his office.

Rauner has been dogged by a political cartoon published by the Illinois Policy Institute, from which he hired several key staff members in the last five weeks.

The image shows a black child in a Chicago Cubs baseball cap begging for money for school from a fat white man in a suit. The man, with a pocket full of cash representing TIF dollars, is shown pulling out an empty pocket, saying, "Sorry, kid, I'm broke."

Rauner's staff sent out a memo Tuesday, saying "as a white male" the governor would have no further comment on it. Later that day, the governor sent out a statement saying he had not approved that message nor had he seen the cartoon. Four staffers were asked Wednesday night to either resign or quit on their own. The governor tried to downplay the shakeup Thursday.

"I disagree with the characterization of 'turmoil.' Change comes as part of any organization. We've had some folks with us since before I became governor. Some folks joined us in the first couple months and have been there since. Other folks have moved back into the private sector at various points over the last two and a half years. It's just part of the process," Rauner said.

"I have seen it now. I understand why some people would be upset by it. I hope we can - together as a society, together as the people of Illinois, together as all Americans - that we can work to find common ground. Work for justice, fairness, equality," Rauner continued.

When pressed on the issue, the governor refused to label the cartoon racist.

The governor repeated today, something that we have heard from him before, that it is always the goal of his office to hire the best people for his administration.
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