Todd Stroger's spending in spotlight

May 4, 2010 (CHICAGO)

County commissioners voted Tuesday to limit board president Todd Stroger's ability to award contracts. The move comes as ABC7 has discovered new information about one project that's put the spotlight on Stroger's spending.

Two weeks after Todd Stroger's election loss, his campaign spokesperson won. On February 16, Stroger hired Carla Oglesby to be his deputy chief of staff. Less than two weeks after she went on the county payroll, the county cut Oglesby's PR firm a check for $24,975.

President Todd Stroger has now suspended, without pay, his spokeswoman turned top aide turned county contractor. But it's not silencing growing skepticism of Mr. Stroger's motives in his final seven months in office.

"Not only is this a violation of Cook County ethics ordinance but a criminal infraction as well," said Cmsr. Tony Peraica, (R) Riverside.

"We are operating like there's so much money coming. We have to tighten our budgets, every elected official, not just you Mr. President," said Cmsr. John Daley, (D) finance committee chairman.

Mr. Stroger's office says the inspector general is now reviewing several questionable contracts. That probe, sources say, includes how Ogelsby's firm - CGC Communications - got paid upfront for work it promised to do informing county residents about a grant available to flood victims.

A letter from the county's emergency management boss ordered the payment. Two days later, the check was cut, and hand delivered to Ogelsby's county office. The amount: $25 shy of the $25,000 amount that would require informing the county board.

Commissioners responded Tuesday by stripping Stroger of his power to hire, fire or spend more than $750 without informing them.

President Stroger is also catching heat for using his county credit card to charge a birthday hotel stay, clothing and a fruit basket. He quickly reimbursed the county and is making no apologies.

"There's probably three things you're talking about. I pay for everything. The county doesn't pay for anything. I don't have to give the county a check, I pay for everything," said Stroger.

Though Carla Oglesby's firm specializes in crisis management, she has not responded to our requests for comment.

President Stroger told commissioners Tuesday despite rough waters, he has no plans to abandon ship.

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