Embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is speaking out nearly a week after a special prosecutor reindicted actor Jussie Smollett.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb also called into question the decision by Foxx’s office to drop 16 charges against the “Empire” actor last March. Foxx is running for reelection against Democratic primary challengers Bill Conway, Donna More and Bob Fioretti.
2020 Voter Guide to the Primary Election: State’s Attorney Candidates
In an extended one-on-one interview Monday with WTTW News, Foxx disputed a lot of the claims made by Webb, especially his contention that she hasn’t turned over evidence that proves Smollett got the same deal that others in his position routinely get.
Webb charged Smollet with six counts of disorderly conduct and filing false police reports for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January 2019.
Webb is also reviewing the conduct of Foxx’s office in deciding to drop 16 charges without Smollett having to admit guilt or take part in an official deferred prosecution program. Foxx’s campaign initially called the timing of Webb’s charges “James Comey-like” insinuating he’s doing this to hurt her reelection campaign.
On Monday, she partially walked back those comments.
“I’m not jumping to any conclusions, just recognizing that it is campaign season and he reached his conclusion at that time,” Foxx said. “I always said this should be a non-political review of this case. I called for a review back in March hoping to take politics out of it. The fact that it’s come in the middle of an election season, I could not have predicted that, but it is what it is.”
In a report outlining the charges last week, Webb said he disagreed with the decision to drop the charges brought against Smollett last year. Foxx had constantly said that the handling of the Smollett case was similar to how other cases have been handled. But Webb said he sought documentary evidence to back that claim up and didn’t receive any. Foxx says there was a disagreement between what records he was looking for and what the office felt it needed to produce. She says she believes he eventually will find what he’s looking for.
“We have said that we’ll be fully cooperative with the information they want from us,” Foxx said. When asked whether she could point to one specific case, she said: “At this moment I can tell you all the disorderly conduct cases that have been referred to our office, the cases that have been charged, the cases that have been referred to alternative prosecution.”
The three Democratic primary candidates have all said they believe Foxx’s office is showing favoritism to the politically connected.
“You can’t have a criminal justice system we believe in if the politically connected are getting one deal and regular folks … are getting a different deal,” Conway said.
“With this new evidence, it looks like there was something amiss at the state’s attorney’s office,” More said.
Meanwhile, Foxx repeatedly sought to change the subject to her accomplishments, including exonerating the records of pot offenders, a more humane approach to prosecuting low-level offenses and a reallocation of resources to fighting gun crimes. She says people that have been affected by the criminal justice system tell her they’re sick of the Smollett story. She says that Smollett is just an annoyance.
“Does it annoy me that there are people that have an opportunity to have an alternative prosecution, and choose to use that to elevate themselves? Sure. But I can’t focus on that. There are people counting on us in neighborhoods every day to do our jobs without concern of politics are celebrity. So, he can be annoying. But I gotta do my job,” she said.
Two candidates are facing off in the GOP state’s attorney primary: Christopher Pfankuche and Pat O’Brien.
Smollett is expected in court next week.
Raw video: Our full interview with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz