4 resign from Illinois governor's office after cartoon flap

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Four members of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's communications team have resigned weeks after being hired in the wake of the Republican's conflicting response to a political cartoon that critics call racist.

Rauner issued a statement Thursday saying Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl submitted resignations.

They were hired last month in a staff shakeup that included several employees from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.

Last week the Chicago-based organization circulated a cartoon of a black Chicago schoolchild panhandling for money from a white businessman in a suit. The image and Rauner's response prompted wide bipartisan opposition.

Rauner's communications staff initially issued a statement saying the governor wouldn't comment further "as a white male." Rauner later backtracked saying that statement didn't accurately reflect his views.