Latest First Lady Emails: Rauner Supported Obamacare But Didn’t Want to Appear to Be. Enter Diana Rauner and the Political Consultants

Prompts question: Were state officials being illegally directed by political operatives?

March 11, 2018 – The latest investigative report by the Edgar County Watchdogs features an email between Diana Rauner, a Washington D.C. political consultant and governor’s office state staff calling into question whether Rauner’s government staff was being directed by his campaign staff in contravention of state law.

The email also includes the revelation that Governor Rauner was opposed to the repeal and replace of Obamacare being argued for at the federal level by President Trump and congressional Republican leaders. So how to spin it such that he didn’t appear to be at odds with prevailing GOP opinion on Obamacare? Enter the First Lady and the political operatives.

Read the email exchange here:

Commenting on the latest email, Allen writes:

“Rauner’s veteran general counsel Dennis Murashko was surely thinking of interactions like this one when he wrote his now Springfield-famous memo, “Interactions Between the Governor’s Official and Political Offices” three weeks later, on Aug. 21.

“’State employees, including employees of the Governor’s Office and the Governor, are prohibited from conducting political activity on state time and may not use state property or state resources for the benefit of any campaign for elective office or any political organization,’ Murashko wrote.

“’Members of the Political Office must not direct official state business because such direction could be interpreted as providing something of value to state officials or employees in return for a preferred policy outcome.’

“Murashko directly addressed emails like this one, sent by campaign staff, during state official hours, soliciting input and giving instruction to Rauner’s state government team.

“’Governor’s Office employees may not.. participate in (political) conversations while on state time… using state resources… (or) while on state property,’ he wrote.  

“For his efforts, Murashko was fired and abruptly escorted out of his state office four days after he distributed this memo.” 

On Friday, Murashko was cleared by the Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) of any wrongdoing in connection with a complaint that had been lodged against him. In reaction to the OEIG announcement, Murashko issued a statement in which he said, “Governor Rauner said publicly that he had urged me to create the memo. I will just say this: The memo was necessary, and to this day, I stand by it 100%. I provided the memo to the staff and then resigned.”

Questions Illinois voters and the Illinois political press corps should be asking now include:

  • Why would Murashko point out the memo creation but refuse to confirm Rauner directed him to create it?
  • Why did Murashko think the memo was “necessary” and feel compelled to reiterate that he stands by it “100%”?
  • Were ethical laws being broken or on the cusp of being broken with political operatives, at the behest of Rauner and/or his wife, directing government policy decisions and governor’s office staff?
  • Is the latest Edgar County Watchdogs story about the email above a good example of that to which Murashko was referring in the memo prompting his writing of the memo last fall?