On primary election day, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger cashed two big campaign checks to provide money for getting out the vote. Now the campaign can't explain exactly where the cash went.
Stroger himself went to Seaway Bank that morning and cashed checks for $18,000 and $25,000. The checks were made out to Stroger.
Campaign officials tell us the $43,000 in cash was given to campaign workers as "walking around money" -- petty cash used to pay campaign workers.
"That $43,000 was used for expenses that were incurred on the day of the campaign, such as getting people to the polls, buying food for the campaign offices and those kind of things," said Stroger Campaign Treasurer Marlo Kemp.
But election experts say the Stroger campaign did not handle this money properly.
"I saw this and it's such a clear violation," said election attorney Rich Means. "You can't simply report that you paid yourself some huge amount of money that you then used as a slush fund."
The problem is that Illinois election laws require campaigns to document all expenses over $150, including who got the money, when they spent it and what they bought. The Stroger campaign disclosure statement does not document a single dollar of the $43,000.
The campaign also said that $30,000 of that cash went back into the bank account, but could not show us a receipt or bank statement to back that up.
Kemp said that the state is fine with the way the $43,000 was reported, although it's still possible that the state will ask for more details. He also told us he plans to file an amended campaign report.
But this is not the first time there have been questions about Stroger campaign finances.
Three years ago, Stroger's campaign was fined more than $25,000 for failing to report $250,000 in contributions.
In January 2010, Stroger had to file an amended campaign report after Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica complained about missing information.
"There's a pattern of misreporting, false inaccurate incomplete information, that is done either intentionally or gross (negligence) by his finance campaign director," said Peraica.
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