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Stroger sets record straight on CFO, sales tax

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chicago Defender
by Wendell Huston

Last week’s surprise resignation by the county’s chief financial officer came as no surprise to her boss and cousin, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

“We had talked about it already and she was planning on leaving the county this year anyway,” Stroger told the Defender about Donna Dunnings. “Her resignation had nothing to do with the Tony Cole situation.”

Cole is an ex-con who was fired two weeks ago by Stroger after it was revealed that Cole did not disclose his criminal background on his employment application.

Cole, who was unavailable for comment, is currently being held at Cook County Jail on $200,000 bond for a probation violation, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

But Stroger critics said Dunnings resigned on April 16 amid allegations Cole reportedly made that the two of them were involved in an intimate relationship. Stroger hired Cole after meeting him at a restaurant where Cole was working as a busboy.

“At this point, Mr. Cole is a disgruntled employee, and he turned out to be a bad hire,” Stroger said.

Dunnings, who was unavailable for comment, has denied having any relationship with Cole beyond being a mentor and his boss.

She did admit to spending $4,000 to bail Cole out of the county jail twice over the past six months.

In retrospect, Stroger said Dunnings may have tried to help Cole too much.

“I think you have to be careful in helping people,” he said. “I think she went too far.”



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