Cook County Dems Endorse Michelle Harris for Clerk

The decision was made in a 79-1 vote Friday

After voting to drop Dorothy Brown as its pick for Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Cook County Democratic Party on Friday announced their endorsement for Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris.

Harris, alderman of Chicago's 8th Ward, was among the aldermen who recently called for Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to resign, pointing to city violence and the 20 percent increase in shootings this year.

She said Friday she "wants to restore integrity" and "wouldn't run without the party's backing."

Harris said she has not decided if she will step down as alderman or wait until the election. 

The vote came after Brown appealed directly to the 80 committeeman, telling them she's donated $25,000 to the party and considered that a contract.

Brown, who has held office for 15 years, is reportedly facing a federal investigation, although she says the multiple published reports about it are just rumors. 

Last week, Politico reported that sources told them the FBI conducted a raid at her home and seized her cellphone. According to Politico, the raid was believed to be an outgrowth of an investigation of Brown's husband, Benton Cook, and a state contract he was awarded for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

Brown is up for re-election in the March primary for the post she has held for 15 years. She has faced questions before, including ones about a program she charged employees for "blue jean Fridays" and placed the employees' donations in a private charity fund.  

The Executive Committee of the Cook County Democratic Party was expected to meet Wednesday to consider reversing its decision to slate Brown. Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios told reporters Friday that Brown was questioned before the slating about whether she faced an investigation, and she told them no.

Attorney Jacob Meister is running against Brown in the March 2016 primary along with Ald. Michelle Harris.

On Tuesday Cease Fire Director Tio Hardiman announced his intentions to run for clerk as well. Hardiman says he wants “to overhaul the record keeping system, a lot of people complain everything is outdated.”

Those who use the circuit clerk’s office have complained for some time that staffers are still using carbon paper. After that issue was made public, however, the clerk’s staff now requires those who use her office to bring their own carbon paper as she no longer supplies it. At the same time, there are numerous reports Brown has not updated the record keeping either.

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