Paying married Rauner staffers with state, political funds 'blurs important line,' reform group director says
A newly married couple is making money both from Bruce Rauner, the governor, and Bruce Rauner, the candidate.
Brittany Ladd, 32, of Phoenix quietly began working as the governor’s deputy chief of staff in December with an annual salary of $150,000; Nick Klitzing, 32, of Altamont, started in September as deputy campaign manager for Rauner’s re-election bid.
When asked about the ethics covering spouses with the same boss being paid with both state dollars and political dollars, Sarah Brune, executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that on its surface the practice violates no law, but it “blurs an important line between political work and state work.”
“It could create the appearance of a potential conflict of interest,” Brune said. “It’s important to show taxpayers there is a bright line between political work and state work.”
Brian Gaines, University of Illinois professor of political science, added there are some conflict-of-interest provisions that apply equally to individuals and their spouses.
“But I think that there is not an automatic assumption, in law, that a spouse is equivalent in employment terms, even if the income is 'household income' (and thus fungible),” Gaines wrote in an email. “In the court of public opinion, hiring of relatives tends to blow up into a scandal when there are multiple instances and/or the individuals seem plainly unqualified for the work.”
Prior to her job in the governor’s office, Ladd worked on Rauner’s first campaign and then worked for the administration in mid-level jobs.
Klitzing also worked on Rauner’s first campaign for governor. He then became executive director of the Republican Party of Illinois before taking on the role of deputy campaign manager for Rauner's re-election.
The two were married in December.