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Foxx urges pols to swear off police union cash, but others say ‘it’s an independent decision’

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx cited the “unique relationship” between elected officials and the police as her reason to reject donations from the union, which hasn’t donated to her. Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) supports Foxx’s decision but will not be returning the money he received.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, in 2018; Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), right, earlier this month.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, in 2018; Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), right, earlier this month.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has signed on to a pledge urging elected officials to reject political donations from the Fraternal Order of Police, joining a slew of political leaders around the country who say they won’t take money from police unions.

That pledge, called “Say no to money from police” was drafted by the Color of Change PAC. Foxx is the only Illinois politician to have signed on to the pledge, according to the group’s web site.

In a statement, Foxx cited the “unique relationship” between elected officials and the police as her reason to reject any donations from the union, which hasn’t donated to her and has been a staunch critic of her work since she took office in 2016.

“The unique relationship between elected officials and police calls for added levels of transparency, accountability, and independence,” Foxx said in a statement. “There is an incredible responsibility that elected officials and police hold respectively. Given the historic lack of oversight for elected officials to investigate police wrongdoing we need to ensure independence.”

As for whether elected officials should return any past contributions, Foxx said “it is a personal decision” for each officeholder to make, saying “it’s not my place to make that decision for them.”

The president of the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police was not immediately available for comment.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon received $2,000 from the police union in February.

On Thursday, the Oak Park Democrat said he’d be donating that contribution to groups helping West Side communities.

“I won’t be accepting any contributions from the FOP and I will donate the contribution my committee received earlier this year to West Side community organizations working to lift up our community,” Harmon said in a statement.

State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).
State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).
Provided photo.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro, who represents the 29th Ward and is a former police officer, received $200 from the union last October. He said he supports Foxx’s decision but will not be returning the money he received.

“I think each individual will have to look and see whether or not they accept donations from the FOP, but also other organizations — it’s an independent decision,” Taliaferro said. “I served 23 years as a police officer, I have many friends who are police officers and all of them serve the city honorably.

“I don’t think we should couple support and advocacy for communities and make a determination that because someone is a police officer we won’t take donations from them. We need reform and we understand there are atrocities being committed against Black and Brown communities, but not everyone is doing that.”

Taliaferro said the union has not strongly supported him financially, but they did endorse him in his first run for his West Side City Council seat.

Ald. Walter Burnett, (27th) received $1,100 from the Fraternal Order of Police last August, but said he didn’t wish to comment on the pledge Foxx signed or whether he’d continue accepting donations from the union. He said he believes the FOP support is tied to him being “the alderman where the [union] headquarters is.”

Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) in 2016.
Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at the McCormick Hyatt in 2016.
Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Secretary of State Jesse White and the Illinois Democratic Party did not respond to questions about any plans regarding contributions each has received from the FOP.

Ald. Nick Sposato, who represents the Northwest Side’s 38th Ward and has received a total of $3,800 from the union since September 2018, said he had no intention of giving any money back or rejecting support from police organizations.

“I’m proud to say I’m one of their biggest supporters,” Sposato said. “They certainly do support me whenever they can. The FOP isn’t known to throw around a lot of money. … I still intend to donate to police funds, the police memorial fund, the FOP golf outing.”

“So no, I have no intention of one, not helping the police and two, I would 100% accept any support I get from police officers, the FOP, national police organizations or whatever. I’m proud to accept their support.”