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State’s attorney challenger Conway gets another $2.3 million from billionaire dad, fueling spat with incumbent Foxx

Challenger Bill Conway’s campaign portrays the candidate as beholden to no one but taxpayers. Incumbent Kim Foxx’s campaign suggests Conway thinks the office is ‘up for sale.’

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, in December; Challenger Bill Conway, right, in November.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, in December; Challenger Bill Conway, right, in November. File Photos.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Cook County state’s attorney hopeful Bill Conway’s father kicked another $2.35 million into his son’s campaign, bringing the total Conway’s father has donated to more than $4.85 million — or more than 88% of the candidate’s total warchest.

The father of the Democratic hopeful is William E. Conway Jr., one of the founders of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group. The senior Conway has a net worth of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

His son, Bill Conway is challenging incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. A former prosecutor and Navy veteran, Bill Conway has raised at least $5,480,233, including the family money.

Bill Conway’s campaign portrays the candidate as beholden to no one except taxpayers.

“In addition to dedicating his family’s resources to helping bring the change Cook County needs from our State’s Attorney’s Office, Bill is proud to have the support of individuals and communities across Chicago,” campaign spokesman Eliza Glezer said.

“While Kim Foxx clings to money raised for her by indicted Alderman Ed Burke — to whom Foxx gave the largest property tax settlement of her first 11 months in office — Bill will not owe anything to anyone except the people of Cook County,” the statement continued.

Shortly after Foxx took office, her staff struck a deal with Burke’s law firm, settling three lawsuits, agreeing that various local governments Foxx’s office was representing would refund nearly $2 million in property taxes that Burke client AT&T had paid.

Conway launched his latest TV ad earlier this week. Foxx took to the airwaves with her first TV ad on Thursday, focusing on her personal experience growing up in Cabrini Green and differentiating herself from those who live in “ivory” towers, an obvious dig at Bill Conway.

“It is unfortunate that some people think public office is up for sale, said Claudia Tristan, a spokeswoman for Foxx’s campaign. “Even worse, they’re using money from an arms dealing company to do that.”

Combined Systems International, a company owned by the Carlyle Group, has been tied to the manufacture of tear gas canisters Egyptian police fired at protesters in 2011, according to a Politico story.

“In reality, it takes passion, experience, and a profound understanding of the issues our communities are facing. That’s how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx energized voters in 2016 and that’s what she’s doing now,” Tristán said. “Our fourth quarter fundraising is a testament to when you show your investment in people they invest in you.”

Challengers to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx
Challengers to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx include (top, left-right) Republicans Pat O’Brien and Christopher Pfannkuche and (bottom, left-right) Democrats Bill Conway and Donna More. File photos.
Campaign photos and Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times and Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times.

While not the norm, multi-million dollar political contributions are not unprecedented in Illinois.

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, the state’s richest man, has given 7-figure donations to a handful of Republicans, including former Gov. Bruce Rauner, former Comptroller Leslie Munger and state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, as well as unsuccessful Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill Daley.

Griffin gave Rauner $20 million in a single contribution in 2017, bringing the total the CEO of Citadel Investments gave Rauner to $36,089,295.18.

And Democrat J.B. Pritzker shattered a national campaign finance record for self-funding, when he spent $171.5 million from his personal fortune to bankroll his successful 2018 run for governor.

Besides Foxx and Bill Conway, Democrats running for state’s attorney include former Ald. Bob Fioretti and former prosecutor Donna More. Two Republicans are also running: Pat O’Brien, a former Cook County circuit judge, and Christopher Pfannkuche, who ran against Foxx in 2016.