Joseph Cook, mayor of the small town of Channahon, Illinois, has been accused of charging $36,000 on his village credit card over the last four years for personal purchases including $1,300 steak dinners, limousine rides and trips to conferences in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando. In addition to despicable abuse of power, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cook has been sued at least four times in the last three years over financial issues and was sued by the state in 2009 for failing to pay chid support. The Tribune on Cook's personal spending as mayor of the village that has a population of only 14,000:
"During four weeks in 2007, Cook charged a $1,300 dinner at a Shorewood steakhouse and a $1,400 stay at a "luxury time share" in New Orleans' French Quarter while attending a conference, records show. Other charges included about $200 for two meals at a Las Vegas Hooters, $853 on alcohol for an employee Christmas party and almost $1,300 on limousine rides to and from Chicago airports.
Cook also requested and received $2,000 in cash advances from the village before traveling to conferences in Las Vegas and Florida, records show. After submitting a 2007 request labeled "Las Vegas Seminar — Extra Money," the village cut him a $500 check, records show."
Cook has been embroiled in controversy after his small village was sued in August by Chicago and regional transportation authorities that accuse the village of improperly diverting millions of dollars in sales tax revenue by allowing corporations to set up "sham" sales offices in their towns.
Village Trustee Judie Nash told the Tribune that a lack of oversight on the village credit card spending led her to propose new rules for town officials that went into effect about a year ago.