Cook County IG to investigate Circuit Court Clerk, husband - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Cook County IG to investigate Circuit Court Clerk, husband

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Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News & Better Government Assoc.) -

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown dashed into the restroom to avoid FOX 32's questions about a small, triangular piece of property on the south side. Until recently, a building stood there.

Records obtained by FOX 32 and the Better Government Association show that in June of 2011, the owner of that property, wealthy businessman Naren Patel, gave it away for free to Benton Cook the 3rd. Cook is Dorothy brown's husband.

"It's our personal business. It has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with the public," said Brown.

However, Inspector General Patrick Blanchard, Cook County's top watchdog, wants to know more details. He is turning up the heat, launching a wide-ranging investigation of the land deal based on FOX 32's report.

In a statement, Blanchard confirms, "The inspector general's office is actively investigating the issues that were brought to light by FOX (and the) BGA--all of the issues."

Patel and his company, Medstar, have donated more than $85,000 to Brown's campaign fund. Also, Patel's cousin is a top deputy in Brown's office.

After Patel signed over the property to Brown's husband for free, Cook then added Dorothy Brown's name to the deed. They then transferred the deed to a company they own, which sold the property for $100,000. None of it, though, was disclosed on Brown's campaign reports or statements of economic interest.

When asked how much money he made on the transaction, cook responded, "this is between me and my wife. It's personal, man."

"From the very beginning, this issue raised questions whether she violated disclosure laws, since she's an elected official. Along with any potential campaign finance laws, just being given a property like this," said Patrick Rehkamp of BGA.

Brown refused to talk to FOX 32 about the IG's investigation. Although, he did respond through a spokesperson.

"Clerk Dorothy Brown knows that she has not violated any rules or laws," said Brown's spokesperson.

In addition to the property deal itself, FOX 32 News has learned the IG plans to investigate related allegations of patronage hiring and the influence of peddling in the clerk's office.

Patel said that he gave Brown's husband the property because he's a friend, and has denied any wrongdoing.

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