Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, fresh off a brutal budget battle with legislators, had some more trouble today -- he had to fire a key aide he had just hired, who turned out to have a history of racist, homophobic, and sexually explicit tweets.
Rauner, a conservative Republican, had hired Ben Tracy as his "body man," a position described by the Chicago Sun-Times as "a hand-picked assistant chosen to travel with him." Today was his first day on the job.
Politico, however, uncovered several deeply offensive messages on Tracy's Twitter account going back to 2013. They included "To the Indian people in the library: SHUT THE FUCK UP," a tweet finding it "funny" that a white woman's mother accompanied her on a date with a black man, and several using antigay slurs such as "faggot" and "homo." After someone else tweeted, "Saying insanity bent me over and raped me would be an understatement," Tracy replied, "I bet you liked that #fag."
Tracy's account has been put into private and protected mode, but Politico obtained screen grabs of the tweets. The tweets had been a reposted by @RadicalCandorIL, a parody account critical of the governor, the Sun-Times notes.
After finding the tweets, Politico contacted Laurel Patrick, Rauner's director of communications, who said the governor's staff would look into the matter. Later in the day, she said, "These tweets are unacceptable. The individual in question is no longer an employee of our administration."
The governor's office has seen a major staff shake-up recently. Rauner last week fired his chief of staff and several deputies, and after that several employees resigned, including Rauner's liaison to Washington, D.C., according to Politico. They apparently objected to "Rauner's heavy reliance on a hardline conservative think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute," the site reports.
Since Rauner took office two years ago, Illinois has been without a budget, as the governor and legislators had been unable to agree on one. Lawmakers finally approved a budget, with tax increases, early this month; Rauner vetoed it, but the legislature overrode him.
Despite his far-right ideology, Rauner has taken a few LGBT-supportive actions, such as signing into law a ban on the use of "ex-gay" therapy on minors by state-licensed professionals. During his 2014 race for governor against incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, Rauner said he would have vetoed the marriage equality bill that Quinn signed into law, but Rauner also said he would not try to undo marriage equality in the state -- now a moot point because of the 2015 Supreme Court decision. His victory over Quinn came largely because of the state's economic troubles.