A Fox Chicago News Investigation has uncovered yet another questionable deal involving Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
On March 5, Cook County cut a check for $24,995 and mailed it to the Washington, D.C. offices of Bora Planning. Bora Planning is owned by Vincent Fry, a longtime friend of the Stroger family and Stroger's former campaign treasurer.
One of Stroger's former campaign funds shares the same address as Bora Planning; the fund was shut down last summer.
Fry told us the contract is to help the County streamline processes for applying for federal housing funds. The contract was paid in full just two days after it was submitted, even though the work had not been completed.
"[Usually] someone performs work, and then they bill for that work because there is some proof of completion, and they get paid," said Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer. "It's surprising to me that someone gets paid in advance."
The amount of the contract, however, is not surprising. It's just below the $25,000 mandatory reporting threshhold. This sort of contract is so infamous, it's known by the nickname "24-9."
The contract was approved by Stroger's Deputy Chief of Staff, Carla Oglesby. She is now under investigation by the Inspector General after Fox Chicago News reported she steered another consulting contract to a business she owns. That contract was another so-called "24-9."
Fry's contract is actually itemized into five different chunks, which added up to $24,995.
"When I look at this I think someone's decided what numbers do I have to throw in here to come out underneath $25,000," said Former County Commissioner Mike Quigley. He's now a member of Congress. "If you thought the Stroger administration was bad before, be very very careful now."
Tomorrow the Cook County Board plans to fire back with new laws that would essentially strip the President's authority to give out contracts without approval from commissioners.
"We want to ensure that things are done in a way that's fully transparent," said Gainer. "If that's not going to be done by the administration, we're going to step in as the board and make sure it happens."