By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown is fighting to clear her name after the Chicago Sun-Times on January 31 published a front page story that said Brown engaged in pay-to-play job selling while in office.
Brown said she was glad the newspaper used a “nice” picture of her, but during an interview on WVON’s Bob Shaw show, Brown said their story is totally false.
“The memorandum they based their story on was a memorandum from a person, one of the individuals who was indicted, where her attorney was asking for the U.S. attorney to provide them with more details, more transcripts and testimonies.
“It was referring to a document whereby they had previously subpoenaed her cell phone. That document was from 2015. When they said on the front page there were more allegations, there were not more allegations.
“It was simply people asking for more information. How is that more allegations. It was from her attorney asking the U.S. attorney to provide them more information concerning what had been out there since 2015,” Brown said, vowing to write a letter to the editor and to meet with former Alderman Edwin Eisendrath, who is now CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This is really unacceptable,” she said referring to the article. “I usually just suffer in silence and don’t say anything, but sometimes enough is just enough.”
“I can state with full confidence that (the) Clerk’s Office hires are selected from computerized lists, using an algorithm based on the Shakman rules,” explained Brown. “Our Human Resources staff make the offers from the produced list with no involvement from me or other management.”
Last week, Brown sent a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune she said was “totally unfair…. I am not discouraged because I will continue to do the right thing.”
Fed up with false allegations, Brown whose term ends in 2020 said the story “offends all notions of neutrality,” and she is demanding an immediate retraction but is reserving the right to seek further legal action against the paper.
“Newspapers shape public opinion,” she stated. “It’s imperative that reporters not abuse the First Amendment Right of ‘freedom of the press.’” Brown vowed to fight back, including hauling the paper into court.
Referring to the paper’s headline, “More job-selling allegations in federal investigation of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown,” she said that is “patently false.”
The newspaper cites “a newly filed court record” that allegedly proves that the scheme still exists. It’s an allegation Brown said is not true. “I looked at the headlines, which said ‘In The Line of Hire? Additional job-selling allegations in court filing suggests feds still have their sights set on circuit court clerk,’ and I went back and found the memorandums that they were basing their story on.”
Brown said the Sun-Times front-page story was based in part on a letter from Beena Patel’s defense attorneys that requested copies of testimonies of individuals mentioned in a more than two-year-old warrant application. Brown said Patel is an “honorable” woman retiree of the Clerk’s Office and Sivasubramani Rajaram is also an “honorable” man. Neither one of them she said, deserved the media attention they are receiving and neither has gone before a grand jury.
Brown said the reporters based part of their story on the U.S. Attorney’s written response to Patel’s lawyers. She said the story centers around a warrant issued two-years ago and that the paper’s allegation that jobs are being sold in her office “does not rise to the level of more new allegations” of job selling.
“It’s just correspondence between two attorneys,” explained Brown, “and there is nothing in these letters that says there are new allegations” of job selling.
And, when the reporters stated that “…a newly filed court record provides further evidence that it not only was true…,” Brown said that too “was patently false. There are absolutely no statements made in either of the letters or the related court filing that support that duplicitous statement. It is a knowing falsity and demonstrates a reckless disregard for the truth.”
When the reporters said, “…a newly filed court record provides further evidence that (job selling), not only was true, a number of people were either involved in the illegal scheme or knew about it” is also “patently false,” Brown said. “There are no statements made in either of the letters or in the court filing that support that outlandish claim. Again, it is a knowing falsity.”