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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Chicago court clerk gives campaign cash to her office's former internal watchdog

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Watchdog,Illinois,Chicago,Campaign Finance,Kelly Cohen,Ethics,Follow the Money,Conflicts of Interest

During her unsuccessful bid to become a Cook County Circuit Court judge, Mary Alice Melchor received a $500 donation from the political committee of Dorothy Brown.

So, what's the issue?

Before launching her campaign, Melchor was an inspector general of the Cook County clerk of the Circuit Court, in charge of rooting out fraud, waste and mismanagement in the clerk's office.

And who has been the clerk? Dorothy Brown.

Brown’s office is the bureaucratic arm of the Cook County court system, which processes, dockets and holds millions of lawsuits and other records, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The donation was made in November, according to federal records.

When asked about it in an interview with the Better Government Association, Melchor – who was paid $111,000 annually as inspector general, according to the Cook County payroll database -- said she was “surprised” to hear about it.

When asked if there was a conflict of interest between the contribution and her county position, she said she took at least six weeks off from her inspector general job before the March Democratic primary.

She came in last of four candidates.

Prior to becoming inspector general, Melchor gave $750 to Brown’s political campaign in 2002 and 2003, state records show.

“Separately, Brown and her husband Benton Cook III face ethical questions related to a state grant program, a land deal with a campaign donor and, most recently, a solicitation of government employees who were invited to a multi-level marketing sales meeting involving a company called 5LINX,” according to the Sun-Times.

Read the full article here.

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Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner