County Board rivals want answers; Brown news conference today
January 22, 2010
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter
Dorothy Brown's blue jeans scandal has her opponents in the race for Cook County Board president riding high.
The Cook County Circuit Court clerk's employees can wear blue jeans to work Fridays and other days if they donate a couple of bucks to an office kitty, a former employee told the Chicago Sun-Times, but just where that money has gone is a mystery.
Brown has said she donates the money to charity but hasn't divulged which ones. Within hours of the news hitting the airwaves and newspaper stands, her opponents were pointing the finger.
Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), another Democrat in the four-way race, called a news conference Thursday.
"It calls into question what's happening to the money. Is it going into her pocket?" Preckwinkle said. "Does it go to her political funds? Is it a slush fund in the office? It calls into question what the money is used for and brings to mind a number of inappropriate uses for the money."
Asked by reporters whether Brown should end the practice, Preckwinkle said: "If it were me, I would end the practice. Of course, if it were me, I wouldn't have done this in the first place."
Both Preckwinkle and incumbent County Board President Todd Stroger sought to paint themselves as the candidates without stain on their ethics records.
Stroger called on Brown to contact the county's inspector general to examine the blue jeans-for-cash issue.
"As elected officials, whenever there is an allegation of wrongdoing within our offices, it is incumbent upon us to move quickly to remove any point of origin of wrongdoing and to ensure that any hint of potential wrongdoing is thoroughly investigated," Stroger said.
"Brown must ensure the taxpayers of Cook County that this latest allegation is baseless and without merit -- but she also must be held accountable if the findings have merit," Stroger said.
The fourth Democrat in the race, Terry O'Brien, head of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, said he hoped the inspector general is taking a look at it.
"It has been suggested by several news sources that Clerk Brown may be 'ethically challenged' in some aspects of her department," he said. "I'm sure the Cook County inspector general will get to the bottom of it."
Brown has promised to answer reporters' questions about where the money is going during a news conference this morning.
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Tags: jeans day, jeans for cash, chicago, politics, money,
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States (load item map)
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