CHICAGO - Gov. Pat Quinn's office said Saturday it is launching an internal review after a published report that a worker hired to oversee millions of dollars in the governor's anti-violence program had a prior conviction for a financial crime.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that it obtained court records showing Benton Cook III pleaded guilty in 1999 to writing more than $3,700 in bad checks. Cook, the husband of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, was hired by a not-for-profit group called Chicago Area Project to work on the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which Quinn started in 2010 to help stem city violence and eventually shut down.
The Cook County state's attorney's office and the U.S. Justice Department are already examining the program, which a state audit found had numerous problems from mismanagement to questions about expenditures. The scrutiny comes at a bad time for the Democratic governor, who is up for re-election in November in one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial races in the country. Republican state lawmakers have said the program amounted to a political slush fund fed by millions of taxpayer dollars.