Illinois Lawmaker Wants to Strip State Tax Credits From TV Shows, Movies With Smollett

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe said the bill was filed in response to prosecutors' decision to drop all charges against Smollett

What to Know

  • All criminal charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett were dropped Tuesday, his legal team said
  • Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct earlier this month
  • Chicago police alleged he staged a hate crime attack on himself in January

An Illinois state representative said Tuesday that he plans to file legislation prohibiting any production employing "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett from receiving any of the state's film tax credit.

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, Chicago's only Republican state lawmaker who represents portions of the city's Northwest Side, said the bill was filed in response to prosecutors' decision to drop all charges against Smollett, who had been accused of orchestrating a hate crime attack on himself.

All charges against Smollett were dropped and a judge agreed to expunge his record in exchange for community service and the forfeiture of his $10,000 bond on Tuesday, nearly two months after the alleged attack in question.

"A lot of valuable Chicago Police Department (CPD) man hours and resources were wasted chasing down a bogus crime arranged by Smollett," McAuliffe said in a statement.

"Hate crimes are serious and so is the time and effort of the CPD. He has cost Chicago a lot more than a $10,000 bond. Smollett should not be able to get anything more from the City of Chicago or Illinois," his statement continued.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to multiple disorderly conduct charges earlier this month. He was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report in February, with Chicago police alleging that he staged the attack the month before because he was "dissatisfied with his salary." A Cook County grand jury later indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts.

McAuliffe said the legislation, which had not been filed as of Wednesday afternoon, would bar any movie or television production that employs Smollett from using the state's 30 percent film tax credit, as well as the 15 percent credit on labor costs in "high-poverty areas," plus any other tax credits offered by the state.

"Where the City of Chicago is concerned, Jussie Smollett is far from exonerated, McAullife's statement continued. "While the State’s Attorney has chosen not to pursue justice in this case, we need to send a message that Smollett’s actions are not a reflection of the values we have in Chicago and won’t be tolerated. His accusations and lies caused a lot of pain to all Chicagoans."

Smollett maintained his innocence after court Tuesday, saying that he has been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one." He reported the alleged attack to police on Jan. 29, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him, according to the indictment.

Initially investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, Chicago police said new information "shifted" their approach to the case, leading them to allege that Smollett orchestrated the assault by hiring two brothers who worked on "Empire" to execute it.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson hammered the decision to dismiss the charges against Smollett, saying they were unaware it was happening.

"At the end of the day it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period. If he wanted to clear his name the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence," Johnson said. "I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts the place to do that is in court."

Emanuel called the decision a "whitewash of justice."

"Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else," he said.

In a statement, the Cook County State's Attorney’s office said the decision came “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago."

"We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the statement read.

20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, the production company behind "Empire," said in a statement Tuesday that Smollett "has always maintained his innocence" and the company was "gratified on his behalf that all charges against him have been dismissed."

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