Rauner Claims He Didn't Interview Fired 'Body Man,' Sources Disagree - NBC Chicago
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Rauner Claims He Didn't Interview Fired 'Body Man,' Sources Disagree

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The battle over school funding in Illinois heated up Monday, as Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans to issue an amendatory veto of a major reform bill – a move that Chicago Public Schools quickly claimed he cannot legally do. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

    (Published Monday, July 17, 2017)

    A week after an aide to Gov. Bruce Rauner was fired over "unacceptable tweets" found on his Twitter page, Rauner claimed that he never interviewed him.

    Rauner told reporters Friday he met with Ben Tracy once before Tracy was chosen to fill the role of a close assistant or "body man" to the governor, but he said the meeting wasn't an interview.

    However, sources close to the governor's office told NBC 5 that the governor did in fact interview Tracy, and any claims to the contrary are false. The role is a personal one, the sources said, as he's required to be with the governor closely.

    When asked by a reporter Friday to clarify it was his "body man" who was fired, Rauner said, "I don't know the exact role or title. You know we’re obviously adding people all the time. You know, I don't know about that."

    "But weren't you involved in interviewing him?" the reporter asked. 

    Rauner responded, "No, no. I met him once."

    Tracy was hired after Kyle Haevers, the previous “body man,” was reassigned. But Tracy was sent packing after the tweets were discovered—including one widely circulated that makes light of physical violence toward reporters.

    ”Maybe body slamming reporters is the winning formula for republicans in IL?” Tracy purportedly tweeted.

    Last May, then-congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for grabbing a reporter by the neck and “body-slamming” him to the ground.

    "There is no excuse for this. Competent staff would thoroughly vet any new staff member, especially those who will serve in the most sensitive positions in the administration,” a former Rauner administration official told NBC 5 at the time.

    "The governor would have personally interviewed and approved of this individual. He needs to explain why he and his new team allowed this to happen," the former staffer continued. 

    Other tweets on Tracy’s page included homophobic and racist language, some of which were captured by screenshots and shared on social media Monday.

    “These tweets are unacceptable,” said Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said. “The individual in question is no longer an employee of our Administration.”

    Tracy's firing came amid a storm of recent resignations, dismissals and reassignments in the administration--including Rauner's chief of staff.

    Tracy's Twitter account has since been deleted, and the governor's office has not made any announcement of a new "body man" hiring. 

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