New County Recorder tried illegal hiring influence

    The new Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough tried to illegally influence hiring before taking office, according to a court report.

    The report was filed in federal court on November 2, 2012 by Cardelle Spangler, appointed by the court to ensure that the Recorder's office comply with federally mandated fair-hiring practices.

    In the report, Spangler described how Yarbrough and a subordinate, in the weeks before the November 6 election, pressured a county official to withdraw a data-analyst job posting. Moreover, Yarbrough wanted existing Recorder staff "to cease attempting to fill any and all vacant positions through the remainder of its administration"—even though Yarbrough had not yet won the election.

    Spangler wrote that Yarbrough and her subordinate kept pressing for withdrawal of the posting even when informed that such postings are mandated by the county's federal hiring practices.

    In an e-mail message, Yarbrough told the country official that she continued to have "concerns . . . about what appeared to be transpiring in the office.” The message goes on to say, “I am clear that you do not work for me neither are we colleagues, therefore, you owe me nothing. But, in light of our face-to-face meeting of the minds several months ago, I hopefully expected consideration, collaboration and information. You may have ‘gone through this before’ with other officeholders however it was not with Karen Yarbrough."

    Spangler wrote that the county's inspector general (IG) subsequently met with Yarbrough and gave Yarbrough documents describing the county's hiring obligations. Spangler also reported that the IG has opened an investigation on Yarbrough's contacts with county staff.

    Yarbrough served as state representative in Illinois's seventh district since 2001. In 2012 the state Democratic party named her as first vice chair.

Document: Report of the Shakman Compliance Administrator, 11/2/12