The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Dorothy Brown Declines No Employee Campaign Contribution Challenge

By Prescott Carlson in News on Feb 10, 2012 10:30PM

Screengrab via CBS 2
Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) has issued a challenge to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown in his bid to unseat Brown -- turn down any campaign contributions from employees and vendors that do business with the county.

Brown, not surprisingly, refused.

"I don't solicit or prohibit individuals from donating to me," Brown told the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

So, you know, Brown's not asking or anything, but hey, if you happen to find yourself writing her a check, she would be much obliged.

And Brown is perfectly within her rights to do so -- the county ethics ordinance puts no cap on the amount county employees can contribute to candidates, and county vendors can contribute up to $3,000 in an election year. Brown received over $30,000 from employees and their relatives in 2009, when she unsuccessfully ran for Cook County Board president.

But just because it's legal doesn't make it right, argues Munoz, telling the Trib, "How can you supervise, how can you administer, how can you deal with promotions, hirings and firings when these employees have felt compelled to contribute to campaigns?"

Brown claims employees are "not coerced" to make campaign contributions.

It's far from the first time that Brown has been accused of walking a fine ethics line. For over seven years Brown had accepted cash gifts for Christmas and her birthday, a move that echoed former governor and convicted felon George Ryan's practice while in office. Brown also halted a "jeans day" program in 2010 after an investigation showed that the money collected from employees in exchange for the privilege of wearing jeans to work was subject to some shaky bookkeeping.

Brown has also been criticized for budgeting a "security officer" that behaves more as a personal chauffeur, holding a campaign press conference on County property, having a phantom legal division, and using job training programs to round up election petition signatures.