Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Monday was endorsed for reelection by the Chicago Sun-Times — but no one bothered to mention that the newspaper’s owners and investors had donated $750,000 to her campaign.
Foxx, who is under renewed fire for dropping felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett last year, is in a four-way race to be the Democratic nominee for state’s attorney. The victor in the March 17 primary will be the presumptive general election winner as well, given Cook Country’s Democratic tilt.
In an opinion article Tuesday for Patch.com, staff writer Mark Konkol detailed how two Sun-Times investors and the Service Employees International Union, which owns part of the paper, combined to donate about three-quarters of a million dollars toward Foxx’s reelection. According to campaign records, Sun-Times investor Michael Sacks has given Foxx $301,250, another investor in the paper Elzie Higginbottom has given her $25,000 and PACs controlled by the Service Employees International Union have given her $425,000.
Online, the Sun-Times editorial included a footnote about its “civic-minded and, in some cases, politically active investors.” But no other disclosures were provided by the paper, and Foxx did speak up.
The editorial board praised Foxx for being “thoughtful, committed and effective” and said she shouldn’t be judged solely for dismissing the charges against Smollett. They acknowledged Foxx had “bungled” and “really messed up” the case. But they said, “It would be an injustice to allow a single high-profile mistake to overshadow her accomplishments.”
Neither Foxx’s office or the Sun-Times editorial board immediately responded to Pluralist’s request for comment.
Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also endorsed Foxx.
After the Sun-Times endorsement of Kim Foxx
The Sun-Times’s endorsement of Foxx came a day before special prosecutor Dan Webb revived the prosecution of Smollett. He announced Tuesday that he had obtained a six-count indictment against the actor for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in January 2019.
Webb accused Smollett, who is black and openly gay, of making four separate false reports to Chicago police related to his account of the attack.
A Cook County grand jury returned the indictment after the special prosecutor found “reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett,” Webb said.
Webb also said he was continuing to investigate potential misconduct by Foxx and her staff.
Foxx’s spokeswoman responded with a statement saying the indictment was clearly the result of “the further politicization of the justice system” in “the era of Donald Trump.”
Meanwhile, Smollett’s lawyer, Tina Glandian, said the special prosecutor’s use of police detectives who took part in the original investigation of her client raised “serious questions about the integrity” of his renewed prosecution.
The previous charges “were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence,” Glandian said. The attempt to prosecute Smollett anew ahead of the Cook County state’s attorney primary election next month “is clearly all about politics, not justice,” she said.
When everyone’s a victim
Chicago police expended numerous man-hours looking into Smollett’s claims of being attacked. But they arrested him a month later, accusing the actor of paying two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack in an effort to use the notoriety to advance his career.
In March, Foxx’s office charged Smollett in a 16-count indictment only to dismiss the charges three weeks later as part of an unofficial “plea deal” with the actor. He agreed to perform 16 hours of community service and pay $10,000 for legal fees. The move drew an outcry from then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police superintendent, who branded the reversal a miscarriage of justice.
The state’s attorney’s office said at the time that the decision to drop the charges was a just outcome.
Foxx claimed that 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.”
Smollett, 37, has stood by his story of victimhood, which he publicly detailed in an emotional interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last February. At the time, many other celebrities, as well as activists, politicians and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of President Donald Trump’s America.
The new indictment of Smollett capped a five-month probe by Webb. In August, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed him special prosecutor to review the case, which he earlier found had been handled improperly.
(Reuters and Pluralist contributed to this report.)
- Kim Foxx./Jussie Smollett.: Screen grabs