Kim Foxx

Foxx Questions Timing of New Smollett Indictment Ahead of Election

The timing of Smollett’s indictment on Tuesday seemed suspicious to Foxx’s supporters, with the primary election about a month away

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Kim Foxx did not show up to Tuesday night’s candidate forum in Lakeview, but her opponents did, piling on the Cook County state’s attorney hours after a new indictment was announced against former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett.

Former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury once again, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate his case announced Tuesday. NBC 5's Dick Johnson has the latest.

But in a statement, Foxx's campaign alleged that the timing of the decision was "questionable" because of how close it was to the election.

"The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same," Foxx campaign spokeswoman Claudia Tristán said in a statement.

"What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive," she continued.

Then-FBI Director Comey announced in July 2016, months before the presidential election, that the agency would not pursue charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but said she had been "extremely careless" in the handling of her emails.

Two of Foxx's opponents in the state's attorney race, Bob Fioretti and Donna More, called for her resignation.

“The sheer embarrassment of her incompetence and all that is [sic] has cost Cook County in terms of delayed justice, lost respect, and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in taxpayer money spent on a case because of her actions should be enough for her to leave office,” Fioretti said in a statement.

Foxx appeared earlier in the day for a reelection endorsement from local clergy as supporters defended her from questions about Smollett’s indictment by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb. 

She acknowledged making mistakes in Smollett’s case saying, “We dropped the ball in our transparency in the way that we handled this case… and what I’ve learned from that is that we have to be more vocal, that we have to talk about our work.”

The timing of Smollett’s indictment seemed suspicious to Foxx’s supporters with the contentious Democratic primary election for state's attorney about a month away on March 17.

The new indictment came a little more than one year since Smollett first reported he was the victim of a racist and anti-gay attack in Chicago. Police later alleged Smollett staged the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.

Police at the time said Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to carry out the staged attack. Evidence, including text messages and video surveillance, emerged of the brothers communicating with Smollett days before the alleged attack. One of the brothers, fitness trainer Abimbola Osundairo, appeared on Smollett’s show “Empire.”

Bodycam footage from Chicago police shows Jussie Smollett with a noose around his neck as officers arrive at his home the night the “Empire” actor reported what police have since called a staged racist and homophobic attack on himself. The footage is part of a massive release of video in the case. 

Smollett was charged on Feb. 20, 2019, with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report, but in a surprising move, all charges against him were then dropped by the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

The actor agreed to community service and to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said wiping Smollett’s record was a “just disposition and appropriate resolution” but noted they “did not exonerate” him.

The case raised questions over how Foxx and her office handled the investigation.

Mary Ann Ahern sat down with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx as she opened up about her re-election bid, her office and the Jussie Smollett case. 
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