The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved an ordinance amending disclosure requirements for county attorneys seeking board approval for large legal settlements.
Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) sponsored the legislation, which will increase the amount of information the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is required to provide commissioners when seeking approval of legal settlements larger than $500,000. In such cases, the State’s Attorney’s Office will now have to provide commissioners information regarding any legal conflicts of interest of any party to the suit, any violations the county’s ethics ordinance, the current status of employee stakeholders named in the proposed settlement, and any significant tangible evidence the State’s Attorney’s Office believes is relevant to its recommendation.
Gainer’s legislation also requires the State's Attorney's Office to compile an annual summary of all settlements, case dispositions and invoices approved in excess of $500,000.00. County offices whose employees are named as defendants in any such cases will have to provide a yearly report on the employment status of the defendant county workers and any resulting disciplinary actions.
The Cook County Board of Ethics supported passage of the legislation, according to a press release from Gainer.
“As advocates for the best interests of all Cook County stakeholders it is our job as county commissioners to ensure we are given all information in order to make decisions with millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars,” Gainer said on Wednesday.