Kim Foxx to run for re-election as state's attorney despite being hammered for Jussie Smollett case
Kim Foxx, the controversial Cook County state's attorney who has come under fire for her handling of the Jussie Smollett case, announced Tuesday she is running for re-election.
Foxx felt the ire of the Chicago police department and the city’s former mayor after her office abruptly dropped a 16-count indictment against Smollett, who authorities claimed faked a hate crime against himself in order to gin up publicity for his acting career. Smollett has denied the allegations.
Foxx tweeted her announcement Tuesday morning.
“I ran for Cook County State’s Attorney four years ago because we needed to change criminal justice in our county. Today, I’m officially running for re-election. We’ve gotten a lot done, and we can’t go back now.”
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That might be harder to do than Foxx thinks.
Her biggest public blunder -- the Smollett case -- is still on the minds of a lot of people.
Nine months after the Smollett saga, in which Smollett reported to police that he'd been the victim of a racist, homophobic attack by President Trump supporters, and seven months after Foxx's office mysteriously dropped all the charges him, the case still comes up a lot.
Earlier this month, President Trump brought up the situation during a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention.
"It's a scam. It's a really big scam, just like the impeachment of your president is a scam. And then you look what's going on. Smollett is still trying to get away with it," Trump bellowed.
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When recently asked by Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen at a forum on criminal justice reform what she learned from the Smollett experience, Foxx gave a widely-panned answer.
"I learned that change is hard," she said. "We started this administration talking about the fact that we were going to use our criminal justice to deal with violence. And those cases that could be dealt with outside of the justice system, we would deal with outside of the justice system. But even as you do that, you have to keep people informed. You have to talk about it. You can't do things where people don't understand. Because once that happens, once the misunderstanding happens, it's hard to unwind that. So I think the biggest lesson that I've learned thus far, and not that there aren't ongoing lessons, is making sure we are keeping the public informed about not just what we do, but why we do what we do."
The response rubbed some Chicagoans the wrong way.
"Foxx, for all her preening about transparency, has never given a full accounting of how and why her office allowed a 16-count felony indictment against Smollett to vanish without so much as an admission of guilt and expression of remorse from him," Chicago Tribune Columnist Eric Zorn wrote. "Who said what to whom? What if anything about the evidence against him changed?"
During the Smollett case, the Chicago police union and dozens of Cook County police chiefs banded together in the middle of the controversy to announce a "no confidence" vote against Foxx.
Foxx's chief spokesperson and two other top executives left the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in April. They did not give a reason why.
Two months later, a Cook County judge ruled to appoint a special prosecutor to review Foxx's handling of the Smollett case. Despite the dust up, Cook County Democrats endorsed Foxx for the 2020 primary.
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Foxx, a Democrat, overwhelmingly won the 2016 race against Republican challenger Christopher Pfannkuche, on the promise of "fixing a system that we know needs repair."
Anita Alvarez, Foxx's predecessor, lost her reelection bid following criticism over how she handed the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, who was shot by white police officer Jason Van Dyke. Earlier this year, Van Dyke was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.
One of Foxx's challengers in the race is Bill Conway. If elected, Conway, 41, would be the youngest Cook County State's Attorney in Illinois history. His campaign is being bankrolled by the Carlyle Group, one of the world's biggest private equity firms, as well as doctors, influential attorneys, business owners, college professors and a lot of private donors, according to the Chicago Crusader.
Another candidate in the crowded race is former Cook County Circuit Judge Pat O'Brien, who ran for his circuit court seat as a Democrat but is in the race now as a Republican.
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"For the past three years, Kim Foxx has talked about rebuilding trust in the state's attorney's office," O'Brien said. "Based upon her actions and inactions over the last few years, I tell you that the only way to rebuild that trust is by replacing her as state's attorney."