Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown Allegedly Paid Husband $90K in Campaign Funds
The saga of Benton Cook III continues
Monday, Jun 30, 2014 • Updated 3:08 PM CDT
The Dorothy Brown drama continues with new allegations that the Cook County Circuit Court clerk reached into her campaign war chest to pay her husband a total of $90,000.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Benton Cook III received the five-figure payment over the course of four years, from 2006-2010, during which he worked as a "media production director" for political candidates including Brown, his wife and apparently his sole client.
Illinois State Board of Elections records show that Cook was paid through his company, Gideon Video Productions, which he ran out of his former home on Chicago's South Side. The business appears to be unlicensed, the Sun-Times said, detailing other areas of suspicion, namely that: Cook's LinkedIn page touted his TV, video and photography work for "candidates" plural while in fact he only worked for Brown, a Democrat, whom he married in 2009; Cook did not directly mention Gideon in his application to join the staff of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the troubled anti-violence program now under federal and state investigation.
Earlier this year, Cook became a tabloid poster child for revelations of financial misuse within the NRI when the Sun-Times reported that he was paid upwards of $146,000 during his two-year stint overseeing the allocation of $2.1 million in state grants to curb street violence in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. Cook was hit with a federal subpoena back in May, prompting his high-profile lawyer, Ed Genson, to paint his client as the "fall guy" for the NRI's misdeeds.
Illinois' Auditor General William Holland did not mince words in February when he blasted the program -- which was shuttered in 2012 -- as "hastily implemented" and poorly managed, with a lack of accountability for the whereabouts of grant money that went missing.
Seizing on the scandal, state Republicans including gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner have waged a ferocious anti-corruption crusade against the Quinn Administration. A GOP-led group of lawmakers last week issued subpoenas for seven Quinn associates tied to the program, which the party has dubbed a political "slush fund" set up by the governor to drum up extra votes ahead of his 2010 election.