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Alleged sexual relationship costs county’s CFO her job

Friday, April 17, 2009
Chicago Defender
by Wendell Huston

On Thursday, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger asked for and received the resignation of Donna Dunnings, his cousin and the county’s chief financial officer, after learning that she allegedly had a sexual relationship with a county employee who was fired last week, said James Ramos, a Stroger spokesman.

Tony Cole, an ex-con, who worked as an assistant human resource director in the county’s highway department, made the allegations. He was fired after county officials learned that he had not disclosed his criminal background on his employment application.

Ramos said Dunnings has denied having any type of relationship with Cole beyond being his boss and mentor.

“The president felt that this would serve as a distraction for Donna and would prevent her from doing her job effectively,” Ramos told the Defender.  “And when it comes to handling taxpayers’ money, there can be no distractions.”

However, Dunnings did admit to paying a total of $4,000 to bail Cole out of Cook County Jail twice over the past six months. Cole is now back in the county jail for violating conditions of his probation, and his bond is $200,000, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

For now, Joesph Fratto, Stroger’s chief of staff and a former county comptroller will temporarily serve as the CFO. Ramos said he expects the county to do a national search for a replacement. The county board must approve any permanent replacement.


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