Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s new travel assistant was fired Monday on his first day on the job after revelations of past racially insensitive and homophobic statements on social media, the latest twist amid a continued staff shakeup.
The Rauner administration confirmed it had terminated Ben Tracy as Rauner’s “body man,” an assistant who travels and keeps constant contact with the governor, after a number of controversial statements were found on Tracy’s Twitter page. The account has since disappeared.
“These tweets are unacceptable. The individual in question is no longer an employee of our administration,” said Laurel Patrick, Rauner’s new director of communications, in a statement.
The tweets contained racially insensitive and homophobic statements. The past messages surfaced in part on a new Twitter account that is parodying Rauner’s transition away from old-guard Illinois Republican operatives who had helped run state government to the new crop of aides from the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, many of whom have little government experience.
Another tweet linked to an article involving Greg Gianforte, the Republican was elected to Montana’s lone U.S. House seat a day after assaulting a reporter.
“Maybe body slamming reporters is the winning formula for republicans in Illinois?” Tracy posted to his Twitter account in May.
Attempts to contact Tracy were unsuccessful.
The firing of Rauner’s travel assistant comes after a number of high-level terminations and resignations in the governor’s administration in recent days, following a Democratic-led legislative override to enact a budget and tax hike package with some Republicans who defected from the governor.
Those leaving the administration include several top aides, members of his communications department, and political staff. More departures are expected.