Heaton takes over from Rasmussen
Former U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton was named Friday as chief of staff to Gov. Bruce Rauner, the third person to hold the job this year.
Heaton replaces Kristina Rasmussen, the former president of the Illinois Policy Institute who was brought on staff in July after former chief of staff Rich Goldberg was ousted shortly after the General Assembly approved spending and tax hike bills over Rauner's veto.
In a statement, Rauner said he brought Rasmussen on "because of her reputation as a foremost policy leader and organizational innovator. I asked her to reinvigorate our staff and advance our goals in improving education, growing jobs and protecting taxpayers and she delivered on all fronts."
The administration's statement said Rasmussen is leaving "to pursue other interests."
Heaton has been with the administration since Rauner took office, serving as public safety director and Homeland Security adviser. He is the former U.S. attorney for the central district of Illinois.
"His combination of legal, legislative and policy experience will help us build on the significant improvements that Kristina accomplished in a very compressed and challenging time."
Rasmussen's departure is just the latest development in a chaotic summer for members of Rauner's executive staff. Starting with Goldberg's firing, nearly two dozen members of Rauner's inner circle left in July, some of them fired and others quitting because of the direction the administration was taking.
Several other employees of the IPI were brought into the administration in addition to Rasmussen, leading observers to believe the administration was taking a turn toward the political right.
Trouble for the new staff began almost immediately. A new travel aide was fired on his first day on the job when it was disclosed he'd posted racially insensitive and homophobic statements on social media.
There was further turmoil after new members of Rauner's communications staff issued a statement that he could not comment on a cartoon published by the IPI that some deemed racist because the governor is a white male.
Another communications staff was found to have made a blog post saying that abortion is being used to rid the world of unwanted people and comparing it to Nazism.
During Rasmussen's tenure, Rauner rewrote the education funding reform bill to incorporate some proposals long sought by the IPI. In the end, he signed a compromise reform bill that dropped most of those provisions.
Rasmussen had been rumored for weeks to be leaving the administration. The rumors intensified last week when Rauner signed into law a bill that provides for public funding of abortion and protection of abortion rights in Illinois.
Rauner's action outraged conservative Republicans and led IPI chairman John Tillman to refer to the governor as "Benedict Rauner."