* The Edgar County Watchdogs ran another story the other day about campaign and messaging e-mails between Diana Rauner and others, including then communications director Diana Rickert. Click here to read it. They’ve been publishing other stories on this topic for a while now (Click here, here and here). Well, they’ve taken it to the next level…
In light of the multi-part series we have published recently regarding the activities taking place in the Office of the Governor, specifically, Washington DC campaign figures driving policy with direct communications to state officials in the Governor’s Office, we looked closely at our Illinois State Ethics Act. […]
In this case, we have filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG).
* From the complaint…
Based on included information and privileged sources, we believe Governor Bruce Rauner has given his campaign staff control over policy making decisions and communications from his gubernatorial, state government office and is, concurrently, forcing state government staff to work, against their will, on his re-election effort. […]
In conclusion, the activities and circumstances outlined above appear to be clear evidence of violation of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430 5-15(a)-(c). They appear to reveal a governor who violated this law as he was gearing up for his re-election campaign, allowing that campaign and those who run it to direct policy and communications for the official governor’s office.
We request an immediate investigation and resolution of this matter and the recusal of Gov. Rauner from appointing the next Inspector General, as they will be investigating this very serious case. That person needs to be independent of the governor.
* This timeline is also in the complaint…
• July 10, 2017 - Gov. Rauner hires new Chief of Staff, Kristina Rasmussen, new communications director, Diana Rickert and new campaign staff as well as new general consultancy, Coldspark, for his re-election campaign.
• July 27, 2017 -Amidst debate in Congress over repeal of Obamacare, Rauner Campaign Consultant Nachama Soloveichik and First Lady Diana Rauner discuss Gov. Rauner’s public position on the issue, including which groups “can be helpful” to his re-election if he publicly opposed Congressional Republicans. Top State Government Staff, Chief of Staff Kristina Rasmussen and Communications Director Diana Rickert, are cc’d on the email.
• Aug. 3, 2017 - Diana Rauner emails Rasmussen, Rickert, Soloveichik and her partner, campaign consultant Mark Harris, advising that Gov Rauner should agree to support a K- 12 School Funding measure he has long opposed “to rewrite the narrative of the past two and a half years.”
• Aug. 4, 2017 - Gov. Rauner leads a meeting of his new state govt. staff and his campaign staff to discuss their organization structure and reporting. General Counsel Dennis Murashko expresses concerns in the meeting regarding political staff directing official staff.
• Aug. 21, 2017 -Murashko delivers a memo on Rauner’s state government office and how it is ethically and legally required to govern itself with regard to campaign staff and the re-election team. Rauner resists the memo.
• Aug. 23, 2017 Murashko resigns, giving two weeks’ notice.
• Aug. 24, 2017 Rickert and her communications team resign. Rauner’s office publicly says it is about a communications flap; privately, sources say, their departure is actually over
issues related to the memo.
• Aug. 25, 2017 Murashko is escorted out of his state office; The reason given: an anonymous OEIG complaint against him.
• Aug. 30, 2017 Rauner officially sign the K-12 school funding bill, the subject of the Aug. 3 email.
• Sept. 5, 2017 - An anonymous source tells reporter Natasha Korecki of Politico that the Murashko OEIG complaint alleged “he had misused the powers of his office.”
• Sept. 7, 2017 -An anonymous source tells reporter Rich Miller of Capitol Fax that “there’s speculation from inside that the memo Murashko wrote about politics in the governor’s office might have been drafted to somehow protect himself from the OEIG beef.”
• Sept. 20, 2017 Rauner publicly announces his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill pending in Congress, the subject of the Jul. 27 email. The language he uses in his statement mirrors the language suggested in that email.
• Dec. 8, 2017 Murashko’s memo is leaked to Miller, who publishes it.
• Dec. 11, 2017 Korecki complains publicly that her Freedom of Information requests to the Governor’s office, asking for Murashko’s resignation letter and the memo, have been ignored. Rauner’s office responds by releasing the resignation letter, but not the memo, which is already public on account of the leak.
• Dec. 12, 2017 Rauner tells reporters that the Murashko memo was “created at my urging.”
• Jan 4, 2017 Murashko defends himself on Facebook, suggesting his “professional integrity” was tested in the governor’s office, but he chose to do the “right thing.”
• Mar. 9, 2017 The OEIG exonerates Murashko, who publicly slams the anonymous complaint as “baseless” and restates that the memo he wrote “was necessary.” He does not validate Rauner’s claim that he told Murashko to write it.
I’ve been trying to reach Rickert for weeks to no avail. But if she claims that she left over issues related to the Murashko memo and not because she was fired after all the chaos, things could get interesting.
…Adding… On background, a senior Rauner official said in no uncertain terms that Rickert was fired for releasing that now notorious “as a white male” press release without getting clearance. The official also claimed that Rickert was “clearly” the one leaking these e-mails to the Edgar County Watchdogs “in an effort to rehabilitate her reputation.”
*** UPDATE *** Governor’s office…
This is lazy and inaccurate conjecture quoting anonymous sources. This office follows all ethics laws. If there is an investigation, we will fully cooperate.
Office of Governor Bruce Rauner