Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Thursday condemned the anti-Semitic remark allegedly made by indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th) in a wiretapped conversation, but she said she’s keeping $30,000 she raised during a 2016 campaign event at Burke’s house.
“I don’t ascribe to Alderman Burke’s anti-Semitic remarks or any of the behavior that he engaged in that has found himself where he is right now,” Foxx told the Sun-Times.
“I have never supported the criminal behavior of anyone. That’s why I’m a prosecutor.”
The anti-Semitic remark that Burke’s attorneys tried to keep secret was disclosed by federal prosecutors as part of a 227-page response to a flurry of pre-trial motions filed by the alderman’s attorneys.
Burke allegedly made the remark while explaining why he was leveraging the position he held as longtime chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee to muscle developers of the Old Main Post Office to hire his private law firm to handle their property tax appeals.
“Well, you know as well as I do Jews are Jews, and they’ll deal with Jews to the exclusion of everybody else unless … unless there’s a reason for them to use a Christian,” Burke was quoted as saying in the wire-tapped conversation.
Foxx said Friday she was disgusted by Burke’s anti-Semitic remark — but not enough to return the money she raised at his house — in part, because she already spent it.
As for money given to her personally by Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke, she has donated that cash to a pair of nonprofit groups.
But of the rest, she said: “That money went towards running a campaign to make sure that I could get re-elected. … And that work has, since my re-election, included the vacating of an additional nine convictions for people who were wrongfully convicted under Sergeant [Ronald] Watts. It’s included continuing to handle the thousands of felony cases that have come through the last year,” she said.
“My record and commitment to the people of Cook County and our criminal justice system is what I stand on. My disgust about the criminal acts and the anti-Semitic language that Ald. Burke has used can exist at the same time. I can be outraged by what I’ve seen and still do the work that the people elected me to do.”
Foxx was asked whether she would be keeping the $30,000 had the alderman made a similarly disparaging remark about African Americans. Wouldn’t she be returning that tainted money, even though she has already spent it?
“It’s a weird game of hypotheticals that I’m not playing today. The truth is, Ald. Burke will have to be held accountable for all of his actions — criminal and otherwise. And he is solely responsible for that and should be,” she said.
Foxx’s political mentor, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, never overcame her ties to Burke during a mayoral campaign dominated by the Burke scandal.
Lori Lightfoot was languishing in the single digits until Jan. 3, 2019, when the first round of federal charges were filed against Burke.
Preckwinkle’s mayoral campaign acknowledged that day she received a $10,000 campaign contribution Burke allegedly muscled from a Burger King franchise owner. The Preckwinkle campaign said she knew nothing about the alleged shakedown and returned the contribution because it exceeded legal limits.
Lightfoot finished first and faced Preckwinkle in the mayoral runoff.
Preckwinkle tried desperately to distance herself from Burke — by returning the money she raised at his house and by using her position as Cook County Democratic Party chairwoman to strip Burke of his role as head of judicial slatemaking.
It didn’t work. Lightfoot swept all 50 wards, in large part because she had no ties to Burke — and is, in fact, a longtime adversary.