Gov. Bruce Rauner’s staff flow charts all about charting choppy waters

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They’re both deputy governors, but former state Comptroller Leslie Munger has seen her portfolio shrink to a couple of areas, while Trey Childress finds his bulging with new duties that make him the point man in times of crisis — both real and political.

And Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new communications head is Hud Englehart, an expert in crisis communications.

Those are just some of the revelations found in organizational charts released by Rauner’s staff this week. The flow charts reflect the choppy waters the administration has had to navigate this year, showing a bevy of shifts in staff members and their responsibilities.

Perhaps most striking is Munger, who Rauner tapped for the newly created $135,000-a-year deputy governor position after she lost her re-election bid. Initially, her new post was involved with economic development, human service agencies, external relations and stakeholder management during the budget fight.

Now, she is limited to taking charge of Illinois Bicentennial events and corresponding with taxpayers.

In contrast, Childress, who is also the state’s chief operating officer, has seen his responsibilities grow — at the expense of the chief of staff.

Trey Childress. From Twitter

A number of top cabinet officials now report directly to Childress, instead of chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen. Rasmussen, who joined the administration this year from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank — released the charts to staffers earlier this week.

The state’s public safety director previously reported to the chief of staff. So did Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, who announced last week that she’s leaving her $250,000-a-year post. Now, those positions will report to Childress.

“That’s a major, major thing. That’s how you handle every crisis that pops up on a daily basis. If something happens in public safety it now is reported to Trey Childress, not the chief of staff,” said a source with knowledge of the administration. “When there’s a potential terrorist attack, when there’s a problem in the prison, when there’s a police shooting, that will no longer be reported to the chief of staff.

“Monitoring floods, tornadoes, used to be a function of the chief of staff,” the source said, adding changes may have been made due to the staff’s response to Fox and Des Plaines river flooding in July in which the governor was criticized for not declaring a disaster area.

Childress is also now in charge of political appointments inside agencies, according to the charts. That was also a previous function of the chief of staff.

Before joining Rauner’s administration two years ago, Childress was a partner in Perdue Partners, a global trading company launched by former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. Before that, Childress spent eight years working for Perdue in the governor’s office, including a year as chief operating officer for the state of Georgia.

Rauner’s new communications head is Englehart, a crisis communications expert who teaches at Northwestern University. The source said Englehart had been a paid consultant for the administration prior to the purge of communications staffers in July — and that Englehart reportedly met Rauner through North Shore party circuits.

The source said Englehart was brought on as a consultant at the same time as Anne Kavanagh, a former TV reporter who now specializes in media training and crisis communication. Kavanagh was brought in when the governor complained about not getting his message out. By July, all of his communications staffers were out, either fired or resigning in protest.

Englehart and Kavanagh often disagreed on messaging, with the former communications staff in many cases agreeing with Englehart. In some cases, Rauner and the first lady would overrule and side with Kavanagh, the source said.

The communications team is now in version 3.0 after another staff purge last month amid a racially insensitive statement that claimed Rauner “as a white male” would not comment on a controversial Illinois Policy Institute cartoon.

Rauner fired members of his communications team in July, with others resigning in protest. The governor surprised observers when he quickly replaced most of the moderate Republican staff that helped him craft his messaging with members of the think tank, which had just slammed him for being too willing to compromise with Democrats.

Two IPI staffers, as well as two other staffers hired to manage communications were ousted after the cartoon debacle. At issue was a racially-tinged cartoon the conservative think tank posted, which was decried by legislators. Rauner’s office was tight-lipped for days about the cartoon, then released a statement, which the governor later said he didn’t approve.

Newly installed communications specialist Lavinia Jurkiewicz came from Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti’s office, where some of her duties including driving the lieutenant governor. Another communications specialist, Leticia Rodriguez, was most recently a secretary in the general counsel’s office.

The new communications team also includes Nicole Wilson, who previously worked for the state’s Department of Corrections.

The state’s Department of Intergovernmental Affairs is not listed on the charts. That department serves as a liaison for the City of Chicago, mayors and county boards, among other entities. The state’s legislative department is also slim, with no head of House and Senate operations.

Other changes include merging the Department of Public Engagement with the External Relations Departments, which handles operations, advance work and events. Typically, public engagement liaisons worked with minority communities and building relationships in the communities.

The governor’s office did not respond to questions about the staff re-organization on Thursday afternoon.

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