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FBI agents raid Cook County building

Friday, September 22, 2006

FBI agents armed with search warrants carried out raids at several Cook County offices in downtown Chicago Thursday in connection to an investigation in to political patronage hiring. Agents are expected to return Friday.

The feds have been all over the Daley administration, the Blagojevich administration, and Thursday they were all over Cook County government. Agents armed with subpoenas and requests for information were at all three of the medical facilities, the hospitals, and the forest preserve district.

At the county building, a dozen FBI agents armed with search warrants started poring over documents at 9 a.m. We don't know how many different investigations of corruption are going on countywide, but the target seems to be allegations of political shenanigans when it comes too hirings and promotions.

The office of human resources, on the 8th floor of the Cook County Building, was off-limits to the media Thursday as FBI agents armed with search warrants seized employment records in a widening federal investigation of corruption in local government..

"The federal government has indicated this area here is being searched. Right now," said Mark Kilgallon, human resources director. Kilgallon said he couldn't comment on what they were searching for.

A spokesman for temporary board president Bobbie Steele says their attorneys tell them not to talk about the raid.

"We are looking at our options and we are fully cooperating with this investigation," said Chinta Strasberg, county spokeswoman.

The raid confirms the feds are indeed investigating the administration of former county board president John Stroger for allegedly manipulating the county's hiring and promotion policies to reward political allies. Four of Mayor Daley's lieutenants were convicted of similar charges at City Hall.

The government is also looking into alleged abuses by Governor Rod Blagojevich's political operatives.

"This building, including the City of Chicago, is a hot bed for corruption, and I don't think anyone should be surprised that it exists at the city, state or county level," said Commissioner Mike Quigley, (D)-Chicago.

"I would ask the county voters, as I have in the past, have you had enough yet?" said Commissioner Tony Peraica, (R)-nominee for county board president.

The Republican candidate for county board president says the raid confirms what he has been saying for months about the Stroger administration and the Democratic party slating of alderman Todd Stroger to replace his father on the ballot for board president after John Stroger suffered a debilitating stroke.

"This is a pattern of fraud, a pattern of criminal activity that shows that the Stroger administration, and by extension Todd Stroger, will continue the same practices that his father engaged in, because that's why he was picked," said Peraica.

"That's my father's administration. At this point I am a city councilman, and that is the job I've been doing. And I think I've been doing a good job. I can't tell what you what the federal government will find, if they find anything," said Ald. Todd Stroger, (D)-nominee for county board president.

Todd Stroger made sure to point out that he is a Chicago alderman, not involved in Cook County government. He claims to be separate from all the things that went on under his dad. He says, if he is elected, he will have zero tolerance for corruption and he will appoint an independent inspector general with teeth and clout.

Tony Peraica says that's a lot of verbiage and voters who have had enough can punch a ballot for him. All of this will play out on November 7.

The FBI agents were at the county offices until around 9 p.m. Thursday night.

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