Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he won’t take a salary or benefits. Neither will his wife. That’s not the case for everybody on the team. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, a former Springfield television reporter who has more recently been press spokeswoman for then-House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and then-Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, will serve as chief of staff to the first lady, Diana Rauner. Jimenez’ salary will be $100,000.
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Jimenez will be the point person for such initiatives as a campaign to renovate the Executive Mansion. Her hiring was made known days after the governor announced a freeze on “non-essential spending.”
Jim Tobin, president of the Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, says the hire practically screams “non-essential.” “It’s pretty close to home for the governor,” Tobin said with a laugh. “I think he should have a talk with his wife and find some way to pay this person out of private funds or private donations. This is not a way to spend taxpayer dollars.”
While the definition of “non-essential” can be debated, Illinois has not had a first lady since Rod Blagojevich was governor. Rauner’s predecessor, Pat Quinn, is a divorcee.