Brown's Jeans Day fund questioned

January 21, 2010 8:27:38 PM PST
Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown is answering questions about money collected at her office.Employees who wear jeans to work are charged $2. It is something the employees wanted. So Dorothy Brown, who is a candidate for Cook County Board President, lets her employees dress down on jeans days if they donate two bucks.

Some workers, however, wonder where that money is going. Brown says her office can account for every dollar.

"I don't even see the money. It does not come near me. I do not see it," said Brown Thursday evening.

Brown and her chief financial officer sat down to explain where the money raised on Jeans Days goes and she gave ABC7 a stack of financial documents for the last three years that, she says, proves her point.

"We have been totally accountable in the way we have maintained these funds," said Brown.

Brown says the jeans day money funds two employees' events: the annual summer picnic, and the annual awards program which takes place Friday night. She says jeans day money is also collected, occasionally, to help charities.

Given that, ABC7 looked at the financial records she provided for 2009.

When it comes to charitable donations, there were two. Brown says $2,853 was donated to an employee who was involved in a fire and another $8,961 was donated to the American Heart Association.

The picnic was more than $23,000 and the employee of the year awards ceremony cost more than $20,000.

The idea of having jeans days started with the previous clerk, Judge Aurelia Pucinski.

"We had full accountability. We gave the money to charity. There was never any question about that. The employees were happy. It was a morale-builder. And nobody was complaining," said Pucinski.

Brown says no employees have ever complained to her and says those who may be speaking out now are political pawns.

The primary is less than two weeks away and her opponents are jumping on the issue.

"When collecting cash - especially cash from your employees, and you're a lawyer and a CPA, I think it would occur to you to keep very scrupulous records of how much cash came in and how exactly it was spent," said Toni Preckwinkle, (D) candidate for County Board Pres.

Brown plans to hold a news conference Friday morning to explain her side with a Power Point presentation.