Dorothy Brown has been elected five times as circuit court clerk in Cook County largely on the strength of a voting base that is loyal to her name.
Yet after four years of a federal investigation that has produced brutal headlines about her but never any charges against her, Brown is changing her ballot name.
“Dorothy A. Brown Cook” is how she is now identified on nominating petitions for mayor that her supporters began circulating this week.
Cook is the name of Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III.
The couple has been married since 2009.
Brown could not be reached for comment Friday on why she is choosing to change her name at this time.
Records show she switched her last name to Cook on her voter registration and driver’s license a year ago.
The move was regarded as quite a headscratcher even within Brown’s own political circle, where supporters wondered why she would give up two decades of name identification, albeit a name that has been besmirched by the long-running federal probe of alleged job-buying in her office.
Brown deputy Beena Patel was indicted last year for lying to a federal grand jury about fundraising in the clerk’s office.
Previously, another employee of the clerk’s office, Sivasubramani Rajaram, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about a $10,000 loan he made to a goat meat company, Goat Masters, owned by Brown and her husband, Cook. Rajaram now says the money was a bribe.
Brown, 64, has denied any wrongdoing. She won re-election in 2016 despite the legal clouds hanging over her.
Her decision to run for mayor amid these problems was also a surprise. Brown first ran for mayor against Richard M. Daley in 2007 and was handily defeated.
Explaining her decision to run for mayor to a crowd of supporters in April, Brown said: “I realized that Chicago needs real change. And I am the person to bring that change.”
Apparently her first change is her name.
Maybe I’m more sensitive to this matter than others would be because I’ve always found Brown to be a serviceable name. Bland and boring, but serviceable.
I would have thought that her name was the least of Dorothy Brown’s problems.