State's attorney investigating Stroger

September 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has launched a probe of her fellow Democrat.

Local political experts interviewed by ABC7 reporter Charles Thomas said they could not remember a time in the last 40 to 50 years that a Cook County State's Attorney investigated the financial dealings of a County Board president of the same party affiliation.

Nevertheless, such an investigation was revealed during the past 24 hours with the release of a letter mailed to the county building over a month ago. The letter was dated August 21st but was not made public until Thursday.

The accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, which is contracted to audit Cook County finances, notified President Todd Stroger that Deloitte had been served with a subpoena by the Cook County State's Attorney's office and that the company's employees may serve as witnesses to a current grand jury investigation.

A spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez confirmed the investigation.

"We have an ongoing investigation underway regarding financial management at the county...(including) spending and how monies are accounted for," the office said.

"There are political machinations at play here to further undermine Todd Stroger, if that's possible," said Tony Peraica, Cook County commissioner.

Peraica, a Republican who lost the president's race to Stroger in 2006, says the fact that a democratic state's attorney has been given free rein by the party to investigate a democratic county board president is an ominous sign for Stroger.

"He's toast. He's done. And everybody knows it except Todd Stroger," Peraica said.

A week ago, the county's Democratic Central Committee refused to endorse the incumbent, who is being challenged in the February primary by Congressman Danny Davis, Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, Water Reclamation Chairman Terence O'Brien and Alderwoman Toni Preckwinkle.

State's Attorney Alvarez's office denies there were any political inspirations for the investigation, which began long before the central committee's meeting last week.

"There's a new state's attorney in town," said spokeswoman Sally Daly, "and she will follow every lead where it takes her."

Alderman Preckwinkle called the investigation more trouble for the incumbent, but she stopped short of calling on Stroger to abandon his re-election effort.

"Todd is somebody I know personally and like and I just don't think this is the right job for him," Preckwinkle said.

Stroger told reporters Friday morning that the letter confirming the subpoena should have remained confidential.

County Board Finance Committee Chairman John Daley released it to the other commissioners yesterday and said this afternoon there was nothing political about that decision.

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