Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “body man” — a hand-picked assistant chosen to travel with the governor on a daily basis — was fired Monday on his first day of the job after a series of homophobic and racially insensitive comments were found on his Twitter page.
The exit is one of at least 20 since last week — when Rauner began a rash of firings, with others resigning in protest.
Ben Tracy was chosen by the administration to replace Kyle Haevers as the governor’s “body man.” Haevers on Sunday was told his services were no longer needed but that he could choose to work for another state department.
A “body man” serves as the governor’s assistant — traveling with him, taking pictures, collecting business cards and helping people connect with the governor. In some cases, the role requires work seven days a week, depending on the governor’s schedule.
Tracy was scheduled to attend both of the governor’s stops on Monday in Mount Zion and Rockford.
But by midday, Tracy was out of a job. According to his LinkedIn page, Tracy was an intern at the Illinois Opportunity Project between May 2015 and 2016. Rauner on Monday named the group’s president Matthew Besler his new campaign chief strategic advisor following the exit of Mike Zolnierowicz. The “free market” group is co-founded by conservative radio talk show host Dan Proft.
Among Tracy’s tweets is one from May 2017 in which he commented on Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, who was elected a day after body slamming a reporter: “Maybe body slamming reporters is the winning formula for republicans in IL?” Tracy wrote.
In several others from 2012 and 2013, Tracy tweets the homophobic slurs f—– and f–.
The administration on Monday confirmed his termination.
“These tweets are unacceptable. The individual in question is no longer an employee of our Administration,” Rauner’s Director of Communications Laurel Patrick said in an email.
The tweets were retweeted by @RadicalCandorIL – a parody account that has criticized the governor since the rash of firings began last week. Tracy made his Twitter page private on Monday.
The firing on Day One had former Rauner staffers quick to criticize, and noting that the administration should have spotted the social media comments, many of which were made years ago. They saw the flub as evidence that the new administration is not accustomed to the usual governmental hiring procedures.
“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 said. “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.”