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Donna More launches candidacy for Cook County state's attorney

Donna More, candidate for Cook County state's attorney, at a campaign rally Wednesday at the Intercontinental Hotel. Attorney Sam Adam Jr., left and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Milan stood behind her. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Donna More, a former federal prosecutor and Illinois Gaming Board attorney, officially launched her campaign for Cook County state’s attorney on Wednesday, touting a platform to reform that office, reduce gun violence and root out public corruption.

More also touted the support of several prominent former judges, prosecutors and attorneys, including African-American criminal defense attorney Sam Adam Jr., whose stand with More has raised eyebrows among African-American community leaders supporting rival Democratic primary candidate Kim Foxx.

“Today we put everyone on notice that we are ready to elect a state’s attorney who isn’t afraid to do what’s right. It’s a choice that voters rarely get: to tell power brokers we are fed up with politics as usual and that we want to replace it with professionalism and integrity,” More said before some 150 gathered at the downtown Intercontinental Hotel.

“This election is all about trust and who has the competence and courage to earn it from the residents of Cook County. Today, we renounce corruption, cover-ups, and passing the buck. We vow to never ever let politics, race, uniforms or money triumph over justice,” she said.

More, who was an assistant in the state’s attorney’s office under Richard M. Daley, lambasted incumbent Anita Alvarez, but did not mention Foxx, a former assistant state’s attorney and former top aide to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Adam, however, in cloaked criticism of community leaders who have looked askance at his support of More, said he chose his candidate because of More’s federal experience and “independence.”

“I’m supporting More because at this time, this county needs somebody that’s independent, somebody who’s willing to step up and do the right thing, somebody who’s not going to succumb to the pressure of politics, and somebody who has a history of understanding how investigations work,” said Adam, currently representing the family of Bettie Smith, who was “accidentally” shot and killed by a Chicago Police officer last month.

More, 57, spent five years in the state’s attorney’s office, followed by a stint as a federal prosecutor, and became the first chief legal counsel for the Illinois Gaming Board in 1990.

“Our community has been rocked to its social and moral core by chants of ‘400 days’ and ‘16 shots.’ If we had a state’s attorney with the courage to act promptly on the video evidence of Laquan McDonald’s death, we’d be at trial today, not in the streets,” More asserted.

More pointed to a familiar litany of controversial cases in Alvarez’s office, including failure to indict Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old McDonald for over a year. Van Dyke was indicted on six counts of first-degree murder only after a judge ordered the city to release the video showing him shooting the teen 16 times.

“Candidates will say just about anything with no accountability. Donna More has never prosecuted a police officer in her life,” said Alvarez campaign spokesman Ken Snyder. “She has no idea what’s involved. Look no further than Baltimore to see what happens when an inexperienced prosecutor rushes to charge under pressure — it results in hung juries or worse. It’s scary that casino lawyer More would wrap up murder charges against police officers in a few days. There is no justice in calling someone a murderer and then watching them walk out of a court instead of into a jail.”

A campaign contributor to Gov. Bruce Rauner, More boasts a healthy campaign war chest largely fueled by her mother and her husband, veteran public relations executive Hud Englehart. More recently lifted the cap on donations to candidates in the primary race by making a $250,000 contribution to her own campaign.