If you like politicians who can’t be trusted, vote for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on March 17.
It seems as though Americans like politicians who mislead them. Heck, President Donald Trump lies to the public constantly and 90 percent of Republicans want to re-elect him.
Foxx appears to have gotten the message.
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She dropped 16 felony charges against the actor Jussie Smollett after the police decided he had faked a hate crime.
You may recall there was a huge uproar in the national media after Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed he was attacked by two men who tied a rope around his neck and poured a liquid on him while shouting homophobic slurs.
This happened just outside Smollett’s home, early in the morning, on one of the coldest days of the winter. Yet, almost everyone initially believed Smollett’s suggestion that these people were waiting for him and recognized him as the gay TV actor when, on a whim, he went out for a snack.
There were lots of jokes about whether Chicago Police could solve the case, whether they would beat a confession out of some innocent suspect, or shoot someone about a dozen times because, well, that’s what Chicago Police did.
A manhunt was launched for Smollett’s attackers. Detectives were assigned to the case, even though there weren’t enough police to properly investigate murders in Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods. This was a big deal.
And then the police revealed that Smollett had made the whole thing up. In fact, the police contend, he paid two friends to fake the attack. The friends admitted as much.
Foxx, the state’s attorney, recused herself, which suggested she had a conflict of interest. There are stories that she had been contacted by an influential person, or several people, asking her to go easy on Smollett.
That resulted in a statement by a spokesperson that Foxx was recusing herself, which later led to a clarification. You see, Foxx had communicated with an assistant she had appointed the “acting state’s attorney” after recusing herself, which meant she had not really recused herself, but had merely said so to mislead the public.
Whatever her conflicts, perceived or otherwise, Foxx put them aside long enough to make sure that all charges were dropped against Smollett.
Foxx said the case was handled like any other but could provide no proof that this was true.
A retired appellate court judge was so angry she filed a lawsuit asking to have a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the handling of the case.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Toomin heard the arguments and ruled that Foxx’s breach of protocol in appointing an acting state’s attorney resulted in a “fictitious office” with no “legal existence “ having control over the Smollett case.
Toomin named Dan Webb as special prosecutor to investigate Foxx’s conduct. Webb convened a grand jury and Smollett was indicted once again.
Foxx, running for re-election, was embarrassed. But she has gotten support from all sorts of Chicago political and religious leaders who are not humiliated by this sort of thing. They are used to far worse behavior from public officials.
This newspaper has also endorsed Foxx as the best possible candidate for the office.
She may be. Think about that.
Her action resulted in national humiliation, an investigation by an inspector general, a decision by a judge that her behavior warranted the appointment of a special prosecutor and the convening of a grand jury that once more indicted Smollett.
Webb’s investigation continues.
No matter what conclusion he reaches, no matter the shame, indignity or ignominy, Foxx may remain in office because people believe she’s the best we can do in Cook County.
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