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I'll no longer accept donations from auditor, ethics chief: Stroger

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County Board President John Stroger said Monday he would no longer accept campaign contributions from employees in "sensitive positions" such as the inspector general, auditor and ethics chief.

Stroger acknowledged "there could be a perception this is political favoritism" in his taking donations from those hired to investigate claims of wrongdoing in county government.

On Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Stroger has accepted almost $9,000 in campaign contributions from employees in those three offices.

Their city and state counterparts, meanwhile, have given no money to Mayor Daley or Gov. Blagojevich, records show.

Last week, a Stroger spokesman said Stroger saw no conflict in taking money from his inspector general, auditor and ethics chief, or their employees, but Stroger said he now acknowledges the appearance of impropriety.

He said that donations have been coming from those offices for decades and that no employees are forced to give to him.

'The bare minimum'

But he called it "a good suggestion" to stop the longtime practice, with a spokesman adding that Stroger has "no objection" to giving back money given to him since the county's ethics policy came into effect.

"He's doing the bare minimum," said the Better Government Association's Jay Stewart. "We're glad he's doing that, because he wasn't doing anything at all before. Something's better than nothing, though we'd still like to see him take it a step further."

Stewart pointed to Daley's stance not to take contributions from city contractors and the move of several state leaders to refuse contributions from state contractors or employees.

This month, Stewart accused Stroger of violating county ethics laws governing how much money can be donated to an official by a county contractor.

Cook County Commissioner and Stroger challenger Forrest Claypool noted that the ethics board is supposed to monitor contributions and said the ethics director's donation to Stroger "makes it even more clear why they're silent when President Stroger willfully violates that ordinance."



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