Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is once again in a scandal over his tumultuous personal decisions.
Last week, Governor Rauner fired his chief of staff and his entire communications team, then brought in employees of a right-wing think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute. Yesterday, the governor fired his handpicked “body man” Ben Tracy for homophobic and racist tweets. Now another newly hired staff member is at the center of a scandal over past social media posts.
“One of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new communications aides has argued that abortion is being used ‘to rid the world of disabled and other ‘unwanted’ persons’ — comparing it to Nazi Germany,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Ben Tracy was fired on his first day on the job. This communications specialist, Brittany Carl was only hired last week.
“Carl, who goes by Brittany Clingen Carl or Brittany Clingen in online articles, is listed as the editor and publisher of Reclaiming Feminism, a conservative blog,” the Sun Times reported.
For now, at least, it appears the Rauner administration is standing by the staffer, who also advocated dissolving teacher’s unions.
“Any of the writing Brittany did before she worked for the state reflect her personal opinion, not the opinion of the administration,” Rauner’s recently hired communications director, Laurel Patrick explained.. “If you’re going to quote from her past writing, she asks that you please quote accurately and with full context.”
That statement is far more supportive than the one Patrick issued yesterday on Ben Tracy.
“These tweets are unacceptable,” Patrick told Politico. “The individual in question is no longer an employee of our administration.”
The aide’s statements about abortion threaten Governor Rauner’s carefully constructed political image as a pro-choice moderate.
“The governor has always portrayed himself as a social moderate, focused more on fiscal issues than social ones. Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to abortion rights groups jointly and through their family’s not-for-profit foundation,” the Sun Times revealed. “But the shift in Rauner administration employees shows he’s moving farther to the right. Many staffers who were either fired or resigned were moderate Republicans — and said they were able to get Rauner away from an anti-union and right-to-work agenda to focus on attainable reforms.”
The turbulent staffing situation isn’t just due to firings, but also resignations.
“Several former staffers told POLITICO that a slew of resignations followed the firings, due to Rauner’s heavy reliance on a hardline conservative think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute. The resignations continued today, including an official who once held a critical policy role in the administration, the office’s digital staff and the Washington D.C. liaison to the governor’s office,” Politico reported. “Before the staff shake-up, it was the office policy to research any potential political appointee before giving them a job, including vetting their social media, said a former member of the Rauner administration.”
The Sun Times has been tracking the list of hirings and firings.
Christie Davis, secretary to the chief of staff
Richard Goldberg, chief of staff
Kyle Haevers, policy advisor
Brad Han, communications director
Jason Heffley, “body man”
Catherine Kelly, deputy communications director
Jennifer Grady Paswater, advisor
Daniel Suess, policy advisor
Ben Tracy, “body man”
Allie Bovis, press aide
Bridget Davidson, digital director
Eleni Demertzis, press secretary
Jared Dubnow, director of operations
Kathy Lydon, deputy chief of staff for federal affairs
Mike Mahoney, chief of staff for policy and legislative affairs
Therese Magnuson, Washington, DC advisor
Olivia Munson, deputy press secretary
Brian Oszakiewski, transportation advisor
Phil Rodriguez, deputy chief of staff for public engagement
Bob Stefanski, director of House and Senate operations