Illinois governor shakes up staff after controversial 'white male' statement

Illinois governor shakes up staff after controversial 'white male' statement
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Members of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's (R) newly hired communications staff have been pushed out in the wake of the issuing a controversial response to what many have deemed a racially charged political cartoon, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The publication reported that staffers were asked to resign, in addition to one voluntarily resigning, after the staff crafted a response to a cartoon showing a black school boy asking for money from an older white male with a pocket full of cash. 

"The cartoon was removed days ago. And the governor — as a white male — does not have anything more to add to the discussion," Rauner's former communications director, Laurel Patrick, said in a statement Tuesday. 

The governor later released a statement saying the comment “did not accurately reflect” his views on the matter. 

“I can understand why some people found the cartoon offensive. And I believe we should do more as a society and a nation to bring us together, rather than divide us,” he said in a second statement. 

The cartoon, which was reportedly supposed to depict school funding inequality, was circulated by the Illinois Policy Institute and removed on Aug. 16. 

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers condemned the cartoon on the Illinois State House floor last week. 

 

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The Sun-Times reported that in addition to Patrick, communications specialist Brittany Carl and Rauner's deputy chief of staff for communications, Diana Rickert, who previously served at the Illinois Policy Institute, were ousted. 

The publication said more high-level communications staffers are expected to resign. 

The governor's communications staff was dramatically revamped in July. 

Rauner is up for reelection in 2018 and is considered a vulnerable Republican governor in a state that heavily backed Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Pipeline paralysis: The left’s latest fossil fuel obstruction tactic Mueller could turn easy Trump answers into difficult situation MORE in the 2016 presidential election. 

The governor has faced a series of public relations missteps recently, including his initial refusal to label as terrorism the actions of James Alex Fields Jr., who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing one and injuring 19 others.

Fields, who was arrested shortly after the incident, has been charged with second-degree murder.