The race for Cook County State’s Attorney is heating up prior to the March 17 Democratic primary and questions are still swirling around the decision of incumbent Kim Foxx to drop all charges in the fake hate crime case against actor Jussie Smollett.
By this time, you’d think Foxx would be able to get her story straight. Alas, her convoluted explanations have become so confusing that she’s now fallen back on using the excuse that because the special prosecutor, Dan Webb, is still investigating, she can’t discuss the case.
Shortly after Smollett’s release, she wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed, “There were specific aspects of the evidence and testimony presented to the office that would have made securing a conviction against Smollett uncertain.” Jaws dropped all over the city after that one. Investigators appeared to have a slam-dunk case.
In October, she told Axios something totally different.
Just a failure to communicate, she said. “You can’t do things where people don’t understand,” she told Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen in an Oct. 30 interview. “Because once that happens, once the misunderstanding happens, it’s hard to unwind that.” In a campaign commercial released Nov. 19, Foxx added vaguely “Truth is, I didn’t handle (the Smollett case) it well. I own that.”
Actually, as she showed Monday, she disowns it. Apart from the absurd implication that this whole tale would be long forgotten if only she’d come up with the right words back in March to explain why her laser focus on violent crime justified letting a petty poseur off without so much as an “I’m sorry,” Foxx relentlessly refuses to explain her actions or the actions of her underlings.
Long-time Tribune columnist Eric Zorn tried again at the candidate forum yesterday.
Now the reason Foxx gives for not going into detail is that she wants to “protect the integrity” of Webb’s investigation, which may not yield a report before the March 17 primary, when she will square off against challengers Bill Conway, Donna More and Bob Fioretti. And which didn’t start until nearly five months after her office dropped the charges against Smollett.
Twice on Monday during the first joint appearance of all four candidates I suggested to Foxx that she appears to be using the ongoing special prosecutor’s investigation as an excuse not to be candid with the voting public — an ironic stance given how frequently she boasts about how transparent her office has been.
“Nothing stops you today from telling us what happened,” I said. “It doesn’t get in the way of Dan Webb if you tell us the truth.”
“I continue to tell the truth,” she said. “It does get in the way. I think it’s really important because … Mr. Webb is also evaluating whether or not he’s going to bring charges against Mr. Smollett. Mr. Smollett still retains rights. What I don’t ever want to do as a prosecutor — particularly in Cook County, with the history that this county has had in our criminal justice system — is do or say anything that impacts that.”
In other words, if Foxx explains to us why she chose not to prosecute Smollett, it might violate his rights.
How is it that a Hollywood actor was able to move the state’s attorney’s office so decisively that they dropped all charges against him — and sealed the records! This is Chicago, so it was done “The Chicago Way.” Someone, somewhere with a lot of political muscle — a lot more than little Jussie Smollett — wanted this particular outcome and, with the generous greasing of the machine with some strategic campaign “investments,” made it all go away.
The speculation was connected to Michelle Obama and her associates, but really, they’re all too clever to leave any kind of a trail to follow. That’s the Chicago Way. And it doesn’t matter who’s in office — “reformers,” “revolutionaries,” or not. When the fix is in, it’s in. And that’s that.