Four more members of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's communications team have resigned weeks after being hired in the wake of the Republican's conflicting response to a political cartoon that critics call racist.
This follows 20 members of Rauner’s administration who quit or were fired last month -- after lawmakers passed a state budget that the governor opposed.
Rauner issued a statement Thursday saying Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl submitted resignations.
They were hired last month in a staff shakeup that included several employees from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.
Last week the Chicago-based organization circulated a cartoon of a black Chicago schoolchild panhandling for money from a white businessman in a suit. The image and Rauner's response prompted wide bipartisan opposition.
Rauner's communications staff initially issued a statement saying the governor wouldn't comment further "as a white male." Rauner later backtracked saying that statement didn't accurately reflect his views.
He denies that his office is in turmoil.
“The communications effort is incredibly hard because we have attacks,” he said. “We have political attacks coming 20 times a day. We have social media attacks 100 times a day.”
Instead, Rauner calls the staff shake-up “change.”
- Illinois Public Radio's Tony Arnold and The Associated Press contributed to this report.