Dorothy Brown

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Dorothy Brown

b. September 4, 1953

Cook County, Clerk of The Circuit Court (2000-)

Originally from Minden, Louisiana, Brown came to Chicago in the late 1970's to work as an accountant for Arthur Anderson. After settling in the 8th Ward, she started an accounting firm of her own and some work at the Commonwealth Edison, then went to work as Auditor General at the Chicago Transit Authority in 1991.

In the late 90's the 8th Ward was indisputably the center of Black political power, as the home of then Cook County Board President John Stroger and a large class of mid-level city and county workers. Brown, likely influenced by her environment, choose to run against the enfeebled City Treasurer Miriam Santos in 1999, who was at the time battling a federal indictment. While Brown lost the race (and Santos would later be convicted) she had a strong showing, earning 48.6% of the vote. Untied to any establishment organization, Brown was considered an "independent" and ran as a reformer for the open Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court position in 2000, handily defeating opponents with more political backing.

Since her election Brown has been dogged by ethics complaints and a legal community that broadly lambasts her office for inefficiency. But with over 1,800 employees, the Clerk of the Circuit Court remains an important reservoir of patronage jobs. As Brown has attracted electoral opponents, Brown has increasingly relied on the support of political leaders like Michael Madigan and Jesse White to raise campaign funds and ensure reelection.

In October 2015, in the wake of a federal probe examining whether Brown and her husband were involved in a 'pay to play' scheme, the central committee of Cook County's Democratic Party voted to pull their endorsement of Brown and instead endorsed Ald. Michelle Harris (8) for Clerk of the Circuit Court. Harris ran a ghost campaign however, where she barely hit the trail and failed to raise enough money to get her message out. A second candidate, Jacob Meister attracted a strong progressive following, but barely broke out of the North Side. Brown ended up winning the three-way race 49-30-21%.


  • 1975, Southern University, B.A.
  • 1977, Earned C.P.A.
  • 1981, DePaul University, M.B.A.
  • 1996, Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D.

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