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Report: Dorothy Brown’s home raided by feds

Thursday, Oct 15, 2015

* This has been a hot rumor for days

FBI agents paid an early morning visit to the home of onetime mayoral candidate and longtime Circuit Court clerk Dorothy Brown, seizing her government-issued cell phone, sources told POLITICO.

The visit, which happened last week, is the clearest sign yet that a probe that initially scrutinized Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III, has expanded to include Brown herself.

One source said the phone seizure was intended to allow investigators to review text messages on the device.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation tell POLITICO that clerk office employees have received federal subpoenas from the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office.

Sources say one line of inquiry centers on Brown’s relationship with employees, their contributions to her political fund and whether those who donated were rewarded.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - pool boy - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 7:49 am:

    Another politician looking out for themselves. Time to change the definition of what a politician is.


  2. - MrJM - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 7:49 am:

    “an early morning visit”

    And with that, euphemism’s conquest of the English language was complete.

    – MrJM


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 7:52 am:

    I guess that “Friday Jeans Day” wasn’t such a good idea…


  4. - Stones - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:13 am:

    Long overdue.


  5. - Sue - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:30 am:

    Thank goodness we have an active USA. My only question is why is it that Lisa Madigan always seems to be such an out to lunch office holder. It can’t always be jurisdictional since there are many state AGs who actively police official misconduct. Exactly what is Lisa Madigan doing to earn a salary other then waiting to become governor?


  6. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:35 am:

    Oswego Willy: You prefer Guess or Jordache?

    Ripe for a primary challenge, one would hope…


  7. - Gooner - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:47 am:

    The scandals are the least of it. She’s utterly incompetent.

    In 2015, her office is routinely using carbon paper.

    In all serious, her office is probably the largest single consumer of carbon paper anymore. Who else uses it?

    The problems go beyond inconvenience for lawyers. The IL Appellate Court has to modify the rules due to the fact that she has a difficult time transferring notice of appeal(s) the roughly two blocks from Daley Center to the IL App. Ct. 1st Dist. It often takes documents over two weeks to travel those two blocks. As a result, rules on things like Docketing Statement need to be modified. The Record on Appeal? It always requires at least one extension of time.

    The worst is for criminal courts where due to her incompetence prisoners are kept longer than they should.

    It is still 1924 in her office.

    And she still has support from the party. Amazing. How bad does an incumbent need to screw up before the Committeemen will act?


  8. - Lobo y Olla - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:49 am:

    Historically, the Feds have had the benefit of one party consent for eavesdropping. That is a huge powerful tool Illinois law did not provide. Illinois has expanded this LE tool fairly recently. There may be sufficient expansion to allow the AG more latitude to conduct better investigations.


  9. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:50 am:

    Sue -
    Lisa Madigan was looking into Blago’s hiring illegalities, and stepped out at the request of then-US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. And historically that office is much more aggressive about public corruption than their counterparts in the rest of the country, hence the Illinois AG being less prominent in such matters than AGs in other states.


  10. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:52 am:

    Sue -
    See http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2006-01-05/corrupt-state-politicians-keeping-feds-busy.html


  11. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:53 am:

    - Ravenswood Right Winger -, my only caveat? No “jorts” on County Time.

    - Sue -,

    Have you read the Illinois Constitution and the duties of the Attorney General of the state of Illinois?

    Even General Jim Ryan had some good quotes as to what the duties are, use the “Search Key”. Fascinating stuff…


  12. - Keyrock - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 8:56 am:

    What Gooner said. The office isn’t capable of posting an accurate court call outside every courtroom door. It isn’t fully computerized. Most of the employees are patronage hacks. Many are afraid of their own shadow.

    It’s a complete, money sucking embarrassment of an old school government agency.


  13. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:11 am:

    There is one adult male who can wear jorts and still look cool: John Cena.


  14. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:13 am:

    Sue - in all fairness to AG Madigan, there was an admission from Patrick Fitzgerald’s office that she and her staff were ordered to not pursue anything big.

    Of course, turnabout is fair play because Jim Ryan was dogged with that accusation during the 2002 primary and general elections. It makes one wonder if Mr. Fitzgerald did the same thing in 2000-2001.


  15. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:18 am:

    A looong time ago I used to defend Brown’s performance as clerk — the cook county court has a crushing caseload and she was among the first big state courts to put their dockets online, and lawyer friends told me that for all their complaints they thought she kept the court functioning at an ok level. But it was downhill from there: it was like she felt new technology was toxic. They still use carbon paper and pre-windows computer screens there! I hear they finally got online filing a couple years ago, but the federal courts have had that for something like 15-20 years. And of course the reports of corruption have done nothing but increase. Sad.


  16. - Keyrock - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    An example of the Clerk’s office approach. I had to get copies of transcripts in a well known case. The clerk’s staff said there were several requests for copies. I asked for the copies to be scanned onto a cd. The staff said they didn’t have that capability. Instead, every few months, they would copy the same 1000 or more pages (when they got around to it), and turn them over to requesters in boxes.

    Inefficient and pointless. Slow. Expensive. But it gives politically connected people jobs.


  17. - Just Observing - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:24 am:

    === Ripe for a primary challenge, one would hope… ===

    http://jacobmeister.com/


  18. - Frenchie Mendoza - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:41 am:


    They still use carbon paper and pre-windows computer screens there!

    Wow — carbon paper. Now that’s trippy.

    And what’s ‘pre-windows’? You mean like TRS-80s and Commodore 64s?


  19. - After Further Review - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:46 am:

    Dozens, if not hundreds, of lawyers are cheering since Brown has been nothing if not a first class bungler as the Clerk of the Circuit Court.


  20. - walker - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:48 am:

    About time. Bound to happen sooner or later.

    Bad mistake for Cook County Dems, (after much contention), to endorse.


  21. - After Further Review - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    Former Alderman Patrick Levar (45th) was the endorsed Democrat in the primary in which Brown was nominated. Lethargic Levar ran an abysmal campaign. As a former deputy clerk, Levar explained that serving as Clerk would be less demanding than serving as Alderman.

    Brown has done nothing in office other than to try to build a patronage army to mobilize in her next losing campaign for a higher office.


  22. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 9:59 am:

    ==In 2015, her office is routinely using carbon paper.==
    White copy of your campaign contribution form goes with your gift, pink copy is your receipt, and yellow copy goes to your personnel file for evaluation day.


  23. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    Been a long time coming.

    Sue, you’re a laugh riot. In all of Illinois history, name the corruption-busting AG?

    Do you really think an Illinois GA and governor would give an AG the resources to pursue corruption cases?

    The federales have the FBI and IRS, for starters.


  24. - Bob the Slob with a Cushy State Job - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:31 am:

    I always wanted a job with the Court Clerk’s office. Levar was my in and he couldn’t pull it off.


  25. - After Further Review - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:37 am:

    Sadly, this is yet another case of the Feds pursuing a corrupt pol who is really an example of low hanging fruit while the higher ups manage to go about their dirty deeds unmolested.

    Interestingly, if Brown runs afoul of the law, she would be the third Circuit Court Clerk in recent memory to have such difficulties. Danaher and Finley also had legal problems related to corruption.


  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    Pretty much anything you ask that office to do, the answer is no.


  27. - walker - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    AFR: Sometimes, when you go after the low-hanging fruit the whole branch comes down.


  28. - After Further Review - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    @Walker:

    I agree with your basic point, but I think that it has been decades since that has happened in the City of Chicago.

    All of the examples that I could recall involved state officials rather than those from Cook County.


  29. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:06 am:

    just another case of the rot that is the Cook County Dem party. I’ve had the opportunity to work with similar departments in other states, and the contrasts in competence, public service and integrity is stark.

    The Cook Dem party slates people who will “play ball” like the latest crook from the CPS Board, and those putting them there to create and maintain patronage and cronyism never take the fall.

    unless she goes to the slammer, she’ll be fine. They’ll find an overpriced job for her in some consulting firm that will get a fat no-bid contract from the Dem government to keep her on a payroll.


  30. - clerk observer - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:11 am:

    Does the Cook County Party have a backup plan in that race? It can’t be Meister, right?


  31. - south side - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    Benton Cook’s $146,000 from Pat Quinn’s political “anti-violence” program; $90,000 from her “campaign fund.” This was rolling for some time, and it ain’t jeans day.


  32. - Jockey - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:46 am:

    Hiptip @ Goon… You know what grinds my gears? The proposed increase tax increase on golf and bowling, due to the fact that Cook County needs more revenue. However, there is an inefficient and incompetent office holder who hasn’t kept up technology in the 21st century.


  33. - ouch - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:58 am:

    Still plenty of time to circulate petitions!

    == @Sue, other ==

    Outside of filling-in when a local states’ atty has a conflict, the AG in Illinois has virtually no legal role as a prosecutor. She can’t convene a criminal grand jury on her own, which makes conducting corruption investigation nearly impossible. Unfortunately, many AG candidates offer campaign bluster about fighting corruption at election time to sound tough and look good in their commercials. So, when they are criticized for not indicting crooked pols (as both Lisa Madigan and Jim Ryan have been) they have no one to blame but themselves.


  34. - yinn - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    Though the AG’s office has a Public Integrity Bureau, my reading of the rules is that the AG can’t initiate the prosecutions but is only allowed to prosecute cases that are routed to the Bureau from law enforcement agencies, inspectors general and state’s attorneys.

    I’ve also experienced it. For example, I’ve seen the local SA tell the AG, “I’ve got this,” and the AG steps aside. But of course, the SA won’t ever prosecute somebody he sits next to at meetings and banquets. Tiny slap on the wrist, maybe, then back to biz as usual — sometimes worse, because the lack of enforcement (coupled with the current dearth of newspaper resources devoted to investigation) tends to encourage future brazenness.


  35. - Robot - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    Nobody has said anything about the Clerks Office Record Center. THE CATs look like Tigers they are so big and scary. Their main reason for being there is because throughout the building you too will note how BIG those rats are that look like CATS. No one has said anything YET. This is harmful and dangerous working condition.


  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 2:39 pm:

    While I would not otherwise defend her job performance, I am not certain the lack of technology is her fault. EVERY Cook County office suffers from a lack of investment in technology that is taken for granted elsewhere. Scanners and new computers? Dream on.


  37. - Keyrock - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 3:29 pm:

    I’d bet you could lease copying machines with scanners for the same price as ones without scanners. Hmm, might be a good set of contracts for a Foia request or two for some reporter.


  38. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 7:34 pm:

    Aanomymous, You’re going to defend Ms Brown because she can’t find a way to get technology in the courthouses with a $80-$100 million budget?


  39. - fly on the wall - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:29 pm:

    why did this take so long?


  40. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:42 pm:

    Gooner, nice stale talking point. In point of fact, according to the Sun Times, her office still uses carbon paper because the Supreme Court REQUIRES her to do so. She and her office may deserve criticism, but that last time I checked, she has never been in charge of the Supreme Court or their rules. This bogus issue was tried against her four years ago. Stop already.

    http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/163341/no-way-to-paper-over-court-clerks-record-keeping-critics


  41. - Gooner - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 10:51 pm:

    Nice try, Weston.

    Have you ever been in a courtroom in Cook County Circuit Court? How about in Federal Court?

    Seriously, don’t try to defend her. There is no defense. She’s completely incompetent.


  42. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Oct 15, 15 @ 11:17 pm:

    Not defending her except on this issue. You are just wrong, at least according to the Sun Times. If you have a beef, it’s with their reporting, not with me.


  43. - clerk observer - Friday, Oct 16, 15 @ 4:33 pm:

    @Michael Weston - did you even read the article?

    “The Illinois Supreme Court still requires courts clerks across the state to keep a paper copy [NOTE: it doesn’t say Carbon Copy!] of records. But that doesn’t stop Brown’s office from also making them available online to criminal justice agencies, said Supreme Court Spokesman Joe Tybor, who declined to comment further. “


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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