Following a path blazed by countless city snow plows, Kim Foxx found her way recently to the three-story, fortress-like home of powerful Ald. Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
The rooftop deck of the Burkes’ 5,600-square-foot home on the Southwest Side was the site of a campaign fundraiser on Aug. 16 for Foxx, the Democratic nominee in the November election for Cook County state’s attorney.
Ed Burke had been a major supporter of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was unseated by Foxx in the bitterly fought primary last spring.
Neither Burke nor Foxx wanted to talk about their budding alliance. A spokeswoman for the 14th Ward alderman and City Council Finance Committee chairman declined to comment Tuesday. And a Foxx aide did not reply to questions about the fundraiser, instead emailing a one-line statement.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from across the county as we fight to fix Cook County’s broken criminal justice system,” said Foxx spokesman Robert Foley.
Many of Foxx’s earlier supporters, who have a decidedly anti-establishment bent, might find it hard to believe that a Democratic ward boss of Burke’s stature is helping her out now out of a deep-rooted desire to change the justice system.
Foxx routed Alvarez in great part because of the outcry over the incumbent’s handling of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The matter became the central issue in the state’s attorney’s race late last year, after the city finally released a video of it.
Burke presided earlier last year over the Finance Committee meeting where aldermen approved a $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family.
At the time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top lawyer told aldermen there was a video of McDonald being shot. The aldermen didn’t watch the video and asked few questions of administration officials before unanimously approving the settlement, just as Burke’s committee has routinely rubber-stamped so many big payouts in police-brutality cases over the years.
While Foxx harnessed anger over the case and her campaign became a cause of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Burke has made clear he has more in common with the “Blue Lives Matter” perspective. In June, he introduced a proposal to categorize offenses against current or former police or other first responders as hate crimes.
The measure, which aldermen haven’t voted on yet, surely wouldn’t go down well with the protesters who literally got in the faces of officers after the release of the McDonald video and called for Alvarez’s resignation.
Burke and a political fund he controls contributed a total of $27,000 to Alvarez, including a $1,000 personal check to Alvarez’s re-election effort on March 11, four days before the primary election.
Foxx is the heavy favorite in the November election against Republican Christopher Pfannkuche.
“I think she’s very much part of the establishment,” Pfannkuche said of Foxx.
Pfannkuche said Foxx can’t match his qualifications. He’s a retired county prosecutor who spent 30 years in the office, including about 20 years in the felony trial division.
But lack of campaign cash could severely limit Pfannkuche’s already weak chances of winning in the heavily Democratic county.
As of Tuesday evening, Foxx’s campaign had not yet reported the contributions made at the event hosted by Burke.
Two sources who attended the event said Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state Democratic Party chairman, co-hosted the fundraiser. Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown said he knew nothing about the event at Burke’s place.
The Burkes’ home was in the news last month, as the city’s inspector general reported that city crews improperly provided early-and-often snow plowing on the power couple’s block during a blizzard last year.