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County Official Fired For Improper Fundraising

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Cook County Seal

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County human resources official has been fired after an inspector general’s probe found she told several county employees last year that they were expected to donate $100 in campaign cash to outgoing Board President Todd Stroger.

The unidentified employee, a manager at the county’s human resources department, gathered a meeting of her subordinates last fall during work hours and told them they were expected to kick in $100 at an October fundraiser for Stroger.

Although the boss and her employees were exempt from limits on political hiring, such meetings on county time are a violation of the county’s ethics ordinance and personnel rules, according to a report issued Thursday by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard.

The inspector general’s office concluded an investigation into the meeting and recommended disciplinary action against the top staffer in December, after Stroger departed, according to the report. The unidentified employee was fired.

A promotional flier for the Oct. 5 fund-raiser at Excalibur nightclub, 632 N. Dearborn, shows that tickets for the event started at $100 and went up to $5,000.

Blanchard’s report, which includes a summary of investigations concluded by his office in the fourth quarter of 2010, also revealed that a Cook County Forest Preserve supervisor used a county vehicle for personal and political business — including driving the vehicle to the Stroger fund-raiser at Excalibur, a violation of forest preserve policy.

The IG’s office put a GPS device in the vehicle and monitored the supervisor’s whereabouts for 32 days — determining the vehicle has been used 49 times for non-work business. That includes a trip to the Stroger fund-raiser.

“We believe the evidence was there to support that he was at this event,” Blanchard told the Sun-Times, explaining that the vehicle was parked just a block away from the venue at the time of the event.

Blanchard recommended disciplinary action and that employee, too, was fired.

Blanchard says county ordinance limits the amount of information he can provide about the cases, including the names of the now ex-staffers.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)

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