Todd Stroger defends friend and ally William Beavers

February 29, 2012

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(WBEZ/file)

The Cook County Board will meet Wednesday for its first time since Commissioner William Beavers was indicted on federal tax charges, setting up a potentially awkward gathering.

Beavers has told reporters he was only indicted because he refused federal investigators' request that he wear a wire during conversations with fellow Commissioner John Daley, brother of the former Chicago mayor.

Daley, who's said Beavers is only trying to shift the spotlight, chairs the county board's finance committee, which meets Wednesday morning. A Beavers aide said Tuesday that the meeting is on the commissioner's schedule, but she could not say if he was going to be there or not.

Beavers is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in federal court before federal Judge James Zagel. Zagel was the presiding judge in the two corruption trials of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Meantime, Beavers got a boost Tuesday from a friend and ally, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

"I know the commissioner well, and he has been a very good person to the community that he represented," Stroger said during an interview on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards. "[Beavers] made sure that people had opportunities to get jobs and contracts, and cares about people."

In 2006, when Democrats maneuvered to replace Stroger's father, the then-ailing Cook County Board President John Stroger, it was Beavers who helped Todd get on the ballot. 

The two had served together in the Chicago City Council and both moved to the county board in 2006. During Stroger's tumultuous four years as board president, Beavers was perhaps his most consistent supporter.

Stroger said on WBEZ that he'd not seen the indictment, but said he had no reason to doubt Beavers' claim that federal investigators had retaliated against him for refusing to wear a wire.

"I think that tells you a lot of how the federal government works," Stroger said. "They try to put all the pressure in the world on you to do what they want, and then you know if you don't, then you have to suffer the consequences."