Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown helped manage an organization linked to Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled 2010 anti-violence program that received state funds, according to a newspaper report published Tuesday.
The organization, Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., was founded by Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, and a 2012 report turned over to the now-defunct commission overseeing such programs showed Brown's signature and listed her as "fiscal manager," according to a Tuesday story in the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper cited state records.
Dream Catchers was supposed to distribute anti-violence literature in 2011 and had a contract to do so with Chicago Area Project, which oversaw organizations receiving money through Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative Program. This year, state auditors blasted Quinn's initiative for spending and management problems. Federal and Cook County prosecutors are looking into the program.
The newspaper reported Dream Catchers was awarded thousands of dollars but its agreement ended in May 2011 after the Chicago Area Project learned of a potential conflict of interest with Cook also being paid by Chicago Area Project to oversee other programs. The newspaper has reported Cook received over $100,000 from Chicago Area Project. Cook has said he worked for the group but didn't receive that much.
Chicago Area Project officials later asked Dream Catchers to return some of the unexpended money, which it did.
Cook and Brown wouldn't comment in detail. Brown's spokeswoman Jalyne Strong-Shaw told the newspaper that Brown provided some "voluntary" accounting work for Dream Catchers. But she didn't confirm if Brown received Neighborhood Recovery Initiative Program money or if Brown signed the Dream Catchers document submitted to the state in February 2012.
"This question is not related to the operations of the office of the clerk (of) the Circuit Court of Cook County," she told the newspaper in response to being asked about the signature. She didn't immediately return messages Tuesday from The Associated Press.
Brown, a Democrat, was first elected in 2000.
Questions about the anti-violence program have dogged Quinn's re-election campaign. He faces a challenge from Republican challenger Bruce Rauner. Quinn has said he identified problems ahead of the auditor's report and addressed them, including abolishing the agency that ran his program. His office, which has launched an internal review, said it will cooperate on any inquiry.