Stroger's personal charges on co. credit card bill

File photo of then-Cook Co. Board Pres. Todd Stroger. (AP)

April 30, 2010 8:33:24 PM PDT
ABC7 has learned that Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is the only county employee who has access to a county-issued credit card. And records obtained by ABC7 reveal that charges on that card include personal expenses.

It comes as some other county leaders question Stroger's spending in the last few months.

Some of the things Todd Stroger is charging to his county-issued credit card include a birthday stay at a hotel and a candy arrangement and clothing.

Stroger says he reimburses the county for personal expenses but others see it as the latest spending spree by a lameduck county board president.

Todd Stroger turned 47-years-old on January 14. Records indicate he spent that birthday at a Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chicago. Stroger's bill for the birthday stay was $689.25. And it was charged to his Cook County issued credit card.

There is a notation on the credit card bill - obtained by ABC7 - that indicates it was paid by a Todd H. Stroger personal check.

"The county policy is he can have a credit card to charge business related expenses and that's what he is doing," said Joseph Fratto, Stroger's chief of staff. "He is reimbursing anything that is not business related."

Stroger's chief of staff Joe Fratto is the one who gets his boss' bills. Fratto confirms President Stroger is the only county employee who carries a county-issued credit card. He got it last summer and in recent months his bills have been fairly modest. They include:

  • $952 to attend a National Organization of Counties conference at the W Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.
  • $11.28 for a On-Star subscription for an unidentified vehicle
  • Taxpayers paid those costs.

    "He's the president of the Cook County Board, for the 3-4 times a year he travels it's more convenient to do that," said Fratto.

    President Stroger also used his county credit card at Edible Arrangements. He spent $54.09 on an Apple Blossom bouquet. The brochure says it's overflowing with pineapple daisies, strawberries and chocolate dipped Granny Smith apples.

    Stroger also charged $87.65 worth of clothing at Joseph A. Bank store in Chicago. Both of those expenses he repaid.

    "One assumes the board president has a personal credit card so it shouldn't be too difficult for him to put his personal expenses on his personal card and his business expenses on his business card," said Cindi Canary, Illinois Campaign For Political Reform.

    Cook County finance committee chairman John Daley says Stroger should be embarrassed by some of the spending scandals of late.

    "I would hope in his presidency, he would want to leave protecting his family, protecting his name and most of all protecting the county," said Daley.

    County commissioners learned this week that Stroger's team paid nearly $25,000 in consulting fees to a firm owned by his deputy chief of staff while she was on the payroll and that president Stroger recently refurnished his office.

    At the next county board meeting commissioners will debate and possibly vote to require Stroger's office to inform them of all new hires, and payments he authorizes above $750. They're trying to strip Stroger of his power to spend on the way out the door.


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