October 30, 2013 || Matthew Walberg, Chicago Tribune
The Cook County sheriff’s office criticized a Maywood trustee for spending thousands of dollars in public money for more than 20 trips over four years and for donating public funds to a political fundraiser.
The sheriff’s department alleged in a report that Audrey Jaycox violated a village ordinance prohibiting elected officials from taking more than two work-related trips per year using public money.
Jaycox also “violated the state elections statute” earlier this year when she used $200 in village funds to buy two tickets to a political event for state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, according to the sheriff’s report.
This is the first report issued by the sheriff’s office in its newly adopted role as an independent investigator for suburban governments.
The document alleges that Jaycox far outspent her annual discretionary in two of the four fiscal years in question — from 2010 to 2013 — with the bulk of the money going for travel to leadership conferences in such cities as Tampa, New Orleans and Washington.
Sheriff’s officials said that none of the expenditures appear to have been for personal gain, but questioned how the trips served Maywood residents.
The sheriff’s office forwarded the report to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for review. The state’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Jaycox, a trustee since 2005, declined comment, saying she had not seen the report. According to the report, Jaycox said that village rules regarding discretionary funds and travel were discussed when she was elected, but were not reviewed often and no one questioned her about the trips.
Sheriff Tom Dart’s office was brought in by the village in July, after he offered to serve as independent inspector general to every suburban municipality at no cost.
Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins said that Jaycox should have known better.
“She knew the rules,” Perkins said. “She’s been a trustee since 2005, and she was chair of the finance committee.”
Trustee Ronald Rivers said he believes Jaycox’s trips are part of her efforts to boost the suburb, and called the allegations politically motivated.
“If people knew how much time she puts in,” he said. “I think this is a witch hunt.”
The report said documents suggest that other officials violated village rules on the use of public funds, and the sheriff’s office said there may be other investigations.