Running for: Cook County State’s Attorney
Political/civic background: Former 2nd Ward Alderman/Democratic Committeeman
Occupation: Civil Rights Attorney
Education: University of Illinois-Champaign (BA) Northern Illinois University (JD)
Campaign website: bobforstatesattorney.com
YouTube: Bob Fioretti
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for Cook County State’s Attorney a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues. Bob Fioretti submitted the following responses:
On January 29, 2019, the actor Jussie Smollett reported to the Chicago Police that he had been attacked by two white men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck. None of this proved to be true. What did the Cook County state’s attorney’s office do right or wrong in this case? What would you have done differently?
First, Kim Foxx allowed the case to be influenced by a phone call from a Very Important Person. Second, she treated Smollett differently than others because of his celebrity. Third, she brazenly lied to the people of Cook County. She claimed to recuse herself. She didn’t. All three acts are unacceptable and disqualifying.
When is it appropriate to recruit the FBI and United States attorney’s office for assistance in cases that usually fall under state jurisdiction?
Violent gang crimes involving guns and narcotics is one area that the federal government sometimes has more resources to prosecute than the State’s Attorney office. Wide-ranging corruption cases as we are apparently watching unfold now also require more resources than the State’s Attorney’s budget.
Federal investigators are conducting a wide-ranging probe of Chicago area officeholders, including aldermen and state legislators. Why do you think these cases were not investigated and prosecuted by the state’s attorney?
As a product of the Cook County Democratic machine Kim Foxx is conflicted. She is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toni Preckwinle and the rest of the Democratic machine. After being slated, endorsed, and raising massive campaign contributions, why would Kim Foxx do anything to destroy her gravy train? When is the last time a Cook County Democratic machine State’s Attorney went after a local machine politician? Not in our lifetime.
What should the office’s priorities be?
Keeping Cook County residents safe should be the top priority. Following the law is another. In a normal scenario, the legislature passes laws. Then the State’s Attorney’s office then carries out the laws. This State’s Attorney makes it up as she goes, ignores some laws and routinely breaks others.
How would you describe the relationship between the state’s attorney’s office, the Fraternal Order of Police and suburban police departments? What should the office do, if anything, to improve these relationships?
As of now, there is open warfare between the state’s attorney’s office and police at every level. This must end. Police officers deserve the support of the office, not the back of her hand. I was recently endorsed by the FOP in this race. If elected, we will work closely together to keep the residents of Cook County safe.
Bail reform in Cook County has been praised for reducing the number of people held in jail while awaiting trial, but it has been criticized for making the public less safe. Do you support these changes? Why or why not? What steps should be taken next?
Nobody wants to see someone languish in jail because they can’t afford a $100 bond. As a long-time civil rights attorney, I’ve long been an advocate for the poor and indigent receiving a fairer shake in the justice system. But I-bonds or home monitoring for car jackers and those who possess and use guns illegally defies common sense and definitely makes the public less safe. The current state’s attorney’s position on allowing the revolving door for violent criminals is indefensible and inexplicable.
What professional experience would you bring to the job of state’s attorney that would best qualify you to handle the office’s wide variety of criminal and civil cases?
I’m the only candidate in the race with wide-ranging experience in government, private practice and the political realm. I have served as an attorney in the Attorney General’s office and for the City of Chicago under both the first female and first African-American Mayor. I’ve helped those who were wrongfully accused and incarcerated while at the same time always strongly supporting law enforcement in their efforts to keep our communities safe.
Each candidate for state’s attorney has notable political supporters and donors. What would you do to assure that they do not have undue influence in your office?
I’d conduct myself the same way I did as Alderman. I did not accept campaign contributions from developers in my ward. According to various studies, I was the most Independent Alderman during my two terms. I voted the interest of my ward. As State’s Attorney, no campaign contribution, no call from Very Important People and no political boss will influence any decision I make. The same as when I was Alderman.
What would you do to shorten the delay between charge and trial for defendants in Cook County Jail?
More resources are needed for both prosecutors and public defenders. But the fact is some defense attorneys see delay as an advantage for their clients and use it as a tactic. The reduction of the defendants stuck in jail for lack of cash bond has already shortened the delays or at least made them more bearable for the defendants who can be with their families while awaiting trial. Also I have advocated for the County to have its very own crime lab. The large backlog of evidence at the State Police Crime Lab is one reason for sometimes long delays in trial dates for Cook County defendants.
The civil division of the U.S. attorney’s office collects judgments that return to taxpayers three times more money than the budget of the office. The Cook County state’s attorney’s civil division recovers far less money. Why is that? What would you do about it?
This is one of the great failures of the current state’s attorney’s office. I would be more aggressive in the civil arena. For example, despite a large number of Sterigenics potential victims living in Cook County, not a peep was heard from Kim Foxx. Also, many don’t realize that the state’s attorney’s office is the last defense against outrageous property tax breaks obtained by property tax lawyers such as Ed Burke. I would closely scrutinize each outrageously large break and go to court to reverse them when necessary.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Mary Bartelme. She was the first female judge elected in Illinois a big focus of her work was around juvenile justice. I thought so much of her, I created a park and named it after her. There is a biography of her etched in a plaque in her honor on the north west corner of the park at Monroe and Sangamon. I hope people that visit and enjoy the park take a moment to read about this exceptional woman who is such an important part of our history of justice in Illinois.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Young Sheldon