Top Cook County official resigns after inappropriate Facebook posts

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Inappropriate comments on Facebook lead to the resignation of one of the top officials in the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

The postings include language and comments some consider racially insensitive, including critiques of the physical appearance of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Under a Facebook post about the First Lady meeting Pope Francis, a comment by Daniel F. Gallagher says: "I think Moosechelle was hiding a secret service agent in the seat of her dress."

Under another post about Al Sharpton, Gallagher writes: "sounds like black privilege to me."

And responding to a picture of Hillary Clinton, Gallagher quotes a crude Eddie Murphy line to describe a woman's appearance.

So, who is Dan Gallagher?

Until FOX 32 started asking questions, he was one of the top officials in the office of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. He made $153-thousand a year as chief of the office's civil division.

Gallagher supervised about 120 lawyers handling much of the county's legal business, and sat near President Toni Preckwinkle at Cook County board meetings.

FOX 32 showed some of the Facebook comments to Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele.

“This is very discouraging that one of our civil leaders in the State's Attorney’s office is making comments like that," said Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele.

Among other Facebook posts, Gallagher calls the Rev. Michael Pfleger "Father Pfaker. He also described the mayor of Baltimore as "an inarticulate, incompetent moron,” and responds to a satirical picture showing President Obama taking away a kid's Legos by saying "and if you complain, you will be a racist and expelled from school."

"There has to be a termination. That person should not be the representative of our office. I know he's not going to be the representative of our board anymore, I can tell you that," Steele said.

And Board President Toni Preckwinkle told FOX 32: "I find many of these posts to be insulting and reprehensible. If this is true, I do not want him on the podium with me."

When FOX 32 spoke to Gallagher by phone last week, he largely defended the Facebook comments saying, "I haven't given up my right to comment... I wasn't stating it on behalf of my office or the position that I hold."

Gallagher said he does regret the Michelle Obama comment: "I probably shouldn't have done that."

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for State's Attorney Alvarez sent FOX 32 the following statement:

"We only became aware of Mr. Gallagher's posts on his personal Facebook page when we were contacted by a reporter late last week.  In light of the troubling and inappropriate nature of these comments, Mr. Gallagher tendered and the State's Attorney accepted his resignation this past weekend."

But it's not just the content of Gallagher’s messages that's raised questions.

FOX 32 and the Better Government Association found some of the posts were made during normal work hours, potentially in violation of the county's internet policy.

"We don't know ultimately if he was off that day or what the circumstances were. But if they were occurring during normal work hours, this isn't something that's acceptable for a public official to be doing on county time, potentially with county property," said Patrick Rehkamp of the BGA

Gallagher told FOX 32 he was occasionally on Facebook during work hours, but didn't know whether any of those posts were made at work.

State election records show Gallagher has contributed more than $13-thousand to Alvarez's campaign, but the State's Attorney says that has nothing to do with him getting the job.

Gallagher told FOX 32 he considers himself an equal opportunity critic, and has taken shots at politicians on both sides of the aisle.

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