Incoming Cook County Recorder under investigation - KMSP-TV

Incoming Cook Co. Recorder under investigation: EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

She hasn't even been sworn into office yet, but already incoming Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough is at the center of an investigation. FOX 32 and the Better Government Association have learned Cook County Inspector General Pat Blanchard is looking into allegations Yarbrough tried to tamper with hiring in the recorder's office weeks before she was elected.

"I'm not sure what got into her but obviously she thinks she can do whatever she wants to do," said Eugene Moore, the outgoing recorder of deeds.

Moore, who has feuded with Yarbrough in the past, says Yarbrough sent a representative to the recorder's office in September who demanded they pull several postings for open jobs until the new recorder took over. Problem is, those jobs are covered by a federal court order which prohibits political hiring.

"She tried to slow the process down, the process of hiring people that deserved to be hired," Moore said.

The story is laid out in a report by a federal monitor appointed to oversee hiring in the recorder's office. The monitor writes she is "deeply troubled" by the allegations, and that Yarbrough's actions are "the subject of an ongoing investigation by the office of inspector general."

"For her to call up as a candidate and say 'stop the hiring' raises serious questions," said Michael Shakman, an attorney who brought the federal suit that cracked down on political hiring.

"You got procedures in place designed to protect the public against patronage hiring, and you can't have a candidate, no matter what her motives may have been, interfering with that process," he said.

Yarbrough hasn't returned our calls, but her aides say her intentions were pure, designed to halt eleventh hour political hiring by the outgoing recorder that she will have to undo.

"This seems to set a land speed record for someone who is investigated by the inspector general before they even take office to which they were elected. it's absolutely unbelievable," said the BGA's Andy Shaw. "If you're concerned about improper manipulation of employees, you can take care of that when you take over."

Yarbrough is expected to be sworn into office this weekend. No word when Blanchard will complete his investigation.

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