For months the three Democratic candidates for Cook County state’s attorney have been trading shots about each other’s integrity in a race largely defined by questions about the Laquan McDonald shooting.
Now, they’re all making sure they have enough cash to keep up the attacks through the March 15 primary.
Challenger Kim Foxx this week reported a $250,000 contribution from the campaign fund of her former boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinke, state records show. Before launching her bid to be the county’s top prosecutor, Foxx served as Preckwinkle’s chief of staff.
That brings the total Foxx has received from Preckwinkle’s fund to more than $301,000 – including $25,000 for a 2015 poll that the Foxx campaign didn’t initially report, a violation of state law. Earlier this week the Illinois State Board of Elections fined the Foxx campaign more than $19,000 for that and other infractions. Foxx’s campaign plans to appeal.
The campaign of incumbent Anita Alvarez slammed Foxx for being a “puppet” of Preckwinkle’s and accused the county board president of funneling money from county contractors.
“Kim Foxx has ‘doubled down’ on pay-to-play tactics,” Alvarez campaign manager Mike Carson said in a statement. “How can the voters trust a candidate to enforce the law when she simply will not follow it?”
Challenger Donna More also weighed in, calling Foxx “Toni Preckwinkle’s proxy in the state’s attorney’s race.”
“If people don’t want an independent criminal justice system, then I suppose that’s OK,” More said.
Foxx has said she will be an independent prosecutor but added she’s proud to have the support of Preckwinkle, whom she described as a leader in advancing reforms that Alvarez has resisted. “Toni has been working on these criminal justice issues for years,” Foxx said.
Preckwinkle isn’t the only big donor to Foxx’s campaign. In the last month she’s also received $400,000 from prolific Democratic contributor Fred Eychaner.
George Soros, a billionaire advocate for criminal justice reforms, and the Civic Participation Action Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, have each given $300,000 to Illinois Safety & Justice, a separate “independent expenditure fund” that lists Foxx as the only candidate it’s backing.
In a statement, Robert Foley, a spokesman for Foxx’s campaign, said she has a wide range of supporters “who know it’s time to transform our broken criminal justice system.”
In the meantime, Foxx’s rivals have dipped into their personal funds for campaign cash.
On Feb. 25 Alvarez and her husband, Dr. James Gomez, loaned her campaign $200,000, records show. During Alvarez’s first run for state’s attorney, in 2008, Gomez loaned the campaign $640,000, allowing her to buy television ads that helped propel her to victory.
“It’s not surprising that Anita Alvarez is having to tap into her personal wealth to try to save her job, given her track record of failure as state’s attorney,” Foley said.
And More – a former Cook County and federal prosecutor now in private practice – spent $200,000 of her own money last week on a media buy with AKPD, the political messaging firm founded and once led by David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Obama.
More also loaned herself $250,000 in December, triggering a clause in the state campaign finance law that allows all the candidates in the race to collect unlimited contributions. More and her mother have given a total of more than $603,000 to her campaign, records show.
“I’m beholden to myself, for sure,” More said, “but I’m not beholden to the machine.”
Altogether, Foxx and the “independent” fund backing her have reported about $2.3 million in contributions for the race while Alvarez has reported $1.3 million and More $1 million.