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Governor Bruce Rauner Ousts Top Aides

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. Rauner has once again purged his top aides, this time following their response to a controversial political cartoon that some found racist.

Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl have submitted their resignations.

Rickert was deputy chief of staff for communications; Patrick, communications director; and Brittany Carl and Meghan Keenan, served as communications specialists.

"We are grateful for their hard work on behalf of the people of Illinois and wish them all the best going forward," Rauner said in a statement.

CBS 2's Political Editor Derrick Blakley discussed the development on Facebook live:

Elizabeth Tomev has been named acting communications director.

In the cartoon produced by the Illinois Policy Institute, an African-American boy with empty pockets holds a sign that says, "Need money 4 school." A cigar-chomping fat cat, representing TIF funds, says, "Sorry, kid, I'm broke."

Late Wednesday, the institute called the controversy a needless distraction to the central issue, that tax-increment financing diverts money from public schools.

After his crushing defeat in the recent state budget showdown vote, Rauner fired his entire communications team, replacing them by staffers from — you guessed it – the Illinois Policy Institute.

That staff lasted just over a month.

Their first, confusing statement on the cartoon concluded: "The governor as a white male does not have anything to add to the discussion."

The statement angered Rauner, who was actually out of town, dropping off one of his children at college.

The statement also triggered further criticism — and a new statement, issued late Tuesday, attributed to Rauner.

"Earlier today, an email went out from my office that did not accurately reflect my views," he said. "I understand why some people found the cartoon offensive."

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