Rauner fights release of wife’s emails

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office Monday moved to block the release of official correspondence by Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner.

The news outlet Politico says it asked for the release of Diana Rauner’s emails, citing the First Lady’s increased involvement in policy and staffing decisions.

The governor’s office says Diana Rauner had communicated via email at least 350 times with the first-term Republican’s then-chief of staff over the first six months of 2017. Politico says the First Lady also communicated directly with staff on political messaging and communication strategy via emails and phone calls.

Gov. Rauner has avoided using state-provided email during his first term. But his wife, who heads the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood development organization, has used her own state email at what Politico calls “a prolific rate.”

Despite that, the governor’s office has attempted to block access to the First Lady’s email, saying that every single one of the hundreds of messages requested are exempt from the state’s freedom of information act (FOIA).

“The Governor’s Office conducted a search and found roughly 350 emails responsive to your request,” a denial of Politico’s request stated. “Please be advised that these emails have been withheld pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(f) (“[p]reliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed or policies or actions are formulated…”) and 7 ILCS 140/7(1)(m)()(“[c]ommunications between a public body and an attorney…representing the public body that would not be subject to discovery in litigation…”) These documents consist of communications strategy, draft statements, and press releases, in which policies were formulated and opinions were expressed.”

Despite publicly acting in a background role for her husband, reports say Diana Rauner was active in the recent staff shakeups in the governor’s office. Those moves saw Bruce Rauner replace key members of staff, including his chief of staff, with members from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.

Politico said Tuesday that it will appeal the decision. R.

–Staff report

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