Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday endorsed Kim Foxx in her campaign to be reelected Cook County state’s attorney despite her admitted mishandling of the Jussie Smollett case.
Foxx has faced criticism in Chicago and nationally for allowing her office to drop all 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett in March. The actor allegedly lied to police in January about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two masked Trump supporters.
Warren, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is the highest-profile politician to back Foxx’s candidacy so far. She praised Foxx for her leadership on criminal justice reform.
“When Cook County first elected Kim Foxx to the state attorney’s office, it not only gained a seasoned advocate but a champion invested in rethinking the county’s approach to criminal justice reform,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “Kim is an effective public servant who leads with compassion, and I’m confident that when reelected, Kim Foxx will continue to bring those qualities to the office.”
Foxx said she was honored to receive Warren’s support.
“Having Sen. Warren’s endorsement is a testament to the work we’ve only just started here in Cook County,” she said.
Last week, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Legend and Color Of Change PAC, the political action committee of the nation’s largest online racial justice group, also endorsed Foxx.
“I didn’t handle it well”
When Foxx announced her reelection bid in a slickly produced video in November, she acknowledged of the Smollett case, “I didn’t handle it well.”
“I own that,” she said. “I’m making changes in my office to make sure we do better. That’s what reform is about.”
Foxx had previously defended her office’s decision to drop the charges against Smollett in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. She said a conviction in the case was not guaranteed and Smollett had anyway been punished enough in the public eye.
However, in the video, Foxx also accused President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association of using the Smollett case to personally attack her.
“They’ll do anything to undercut progress,” she said.
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 announcing that I’m running for re-election. We’ve gotten a lot done, and we can’t go back now. pic.twitter.com/0ECV7BRJGH
— Kim Foxx (@KimFoxxforSA) November 19, 2019
Elizabeth Warren versus Kim Foxx
Still, Foxx’s Democratic challengers in the race for state’s attorney have repeatedly criticized her handling of the Smollett case.
On Monday, one of her primary opponents, former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Conway, released a video campaign ad featuring a client who said she was charged with the same crime as Smollett but “didn’t get special treatment from Kim Foxx.”
Foxx responded the same day with an ad touting her legal battles with the NRA and the Trump administration.”
“Because taking on violence and hate is the only way we’ll all be safe,” she said in the video.
Also vying for Foxx’s seat are Democrats former Chicago City Council Alderman Bob Fioretti and former federal prosecutor Donna More and Republicans former Cook County Judge Patrick W. O’Brien and former Cook County prosecutor Christopher Pfannkuche.
When Foxx’s office dropped the charges against Smollett, it also asked that his records be sealed. Chicago police were not informed of the deal with Smollett in advance and were reportedly “furious” with the decision, as were other Chicago officials.
Smollett was not required to admit guilt as part of the agreement and has continued to profess his innocence.
Foxx claimed she recused herself from the case after speaking to a relative of Smollett at the request of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff. But she later said she only recused herself “in a colloquial sense.” A county judge later ruled that she had acted improperly.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin ruled in June that Foxx had acted improperly and said he would appoint a special prosecutor to potentially refile criminal charges against Smollett. In August, the judge named David Webb, a retired federal prosecutor, to the role.
Meanwhile, Warren has faced a number of questions about her own integrity. A New York Times/Siena poll released Saturday found her running in fourth among Iowa registered voters ahead of the state’s caucus, which kicks off primary voting.