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As Lawmakers Denounce 'Racist,' 'Bigoted' Cartoon, Gov. Rauner Called Out For Lack Of Response

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 22, 2017 11:59PM

AP Photo/Seth Perlman File

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and his administration continued to face harsh criticism Tuesday over a cartoon the closely allied Illinois Policy Institute published last week.

The cartoon, which has been widely panned for being both insensitive and racist, depicts an African-American child on a street corner presumably begging for money while holding a sign that reads "Need money 4 school” as a white man shows him an empty pocket saying “sorry kid, I’m broke.” The Institute published the illustration as part of the ongoing debate about Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, which would drastically cut funding from Chicago Public Schools by $145 million.

The right wing conservative think tank has since taken down the cartoon, but not after defending it multiple times.

“This is a good example when it comes to the very charged subject of racism,” Institute CEO John Tillman said on Thursday, according to the State Journal-Register. “There are people who care deeply and there is structural racism. And then there’s people who want to introduce the subject to get political gain.”

Additionally, the Institute argued with 26th District House Representative Christian Mitchell, after he blasted the cartoon.

Rauner’s office recently hired several people from the Illinois Policy Institute in a recent series of staff shake-ups, and in the years prior to his term in office he donated more than half a million dollars to the think tank.

Over the past week, reporters and others have pressed the governor for a response, which he refused to call racist or admit as to whether or not he’s even seen it. On Tuesday, NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern pressed Rauner several times. In a statement response to the network, Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said:

“The governor would never try to talk anyone out of their reaction to any piece of art, political or nonpolitical, right or left, good or bad. Those reactions deserve respect on their own terms.”

She continued:

“The governor has great respect for the black caucus and members of the General Assembly who voiced concerns about the cartoon. The governor’s office has also heard from members of the black community who found truth in the imagery and do not find the cartoon offensive. Here is where things stand: The cartoon was removed days ago. And the governor - as a white male - does not have anything more to add to the discussion.”

Though the governor responded to criticism from the Illinois House which passed a resolution denouncing the cartoon by saying “racism and bigotry and violence has no place in our society,” the statement from his office was not received well.

“As the governor of this state, Bruce Rauner has an obligation to use his platform to fight racism in Illinois,” said gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker’s campaign spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh in a press release. “Rauner’s refusal to denounce the racist cartoon from the Illinois Policy Institute is what Illinoisans should now expect after the failed governor staffed his administration from their ranks.”

Pritzker’s choice for leiutennat governor, Fifth District House Representative Juliana Stratton, tweeted from her campaign account that Rauner needs to “just say” the cartoon is racist.

A representative from the Democratic Governor’s Association said Rauner reached a “whole new level” of “moral abdication.”

“All Illinoisans should take a stand against racism and prejudice, regardless of their own race or background,” said Communications Director Jared Leopold. “As we saw in the aftermath of Charlottesville, this is particularly true for our elected leaders. Bruce Rauner exempting himself from the conversation because he’s a white man shows just how little he understands the problem.”