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Rauner Taps Public Safety Director As New Chief Of Staff

Brian Mackey/WUIS
Rodger Heaton, right, chairs a meeting of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform in Springfield.

Rodger Heaton, Illinois Director of Public Safety since January 2015,  will become chief of staff for Gov. Bruce Rauner, effective Monday.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Heaton succeeds Kristina Rasmussen, the former CEO of the conservative-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, who has headed the governor’s staff since July 2017.

Rauner made the announcement Friday.

“I’m excited to promote Rodger to be our team leader,” Rauner said in a news release. “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.”

From 2005 to 2009, Heaton was U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, the chief federal law enforcement official for 46 counties. He also served on the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which advises the Attorney General on justice system policy.

As public safety director and the governor’s Homeland Security adviser, Heaton has worked with members of all three branches of Illinois state government, and is familiar with the workings of the Office of the Governor and the priorities that the governor has established.

Rauner praised Rasmussen, who is “leaving the administration to pursue other interests,” according to the news release from the governor’s office. She will remain on staff until next Friday “to help ensure a smooth transition.”