- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

She may have recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has come under fire after her office made the stunning decision to drop all charges against the celebrity actor accused of orchestrating an elaborate hate crimes hoax.

The Chicago police union reiterated calls Wednesday for a federal investigation into Ms. Foxx’s handling of the case, starting with her behind-the-scenes contact with the police chief on the Smollett family’s behalf after being contacted by Tina Tchen, a onetime aide to former first lady Michelle Obama.

“It’s outrageous, but this is nothing new for Kim Foxx,” said Martin Preib, second vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7. “We’ve been complaining about her for two years on so many levels. Her office is just completely out of control.”

What’s more, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, called for federal prosecutors to review the Smollett case, saying what the actor “is accused of doing is disgusting.”

“There shouldn’t be one set of rules for ordinary people and another set of rules for Hollywood actors with political connections,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, former Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti called on Ms. Foxx to step down, tweeting that “Amateur hour is over,” while Chicago columnists blasted the decision to drop the 16 felony counts against Mr. Smollett, who was accused of staging a Jan. 29 hate-crime attack. He has denied the charges but was required to forfeit his $10,000 bond payment. The record on his indictment has been sealed.

SEE ALSO: Rahm Emanuel rips Jussie Smollett debacle again; charges dropped like mysterious ‘bolt of lightning’

“When did you first learn of this indefensible deal? Why was it cut in secret? Why doesn’t Jussie Smollett have to own what he was accused of doing?” the Chicago Tribune asked in an editorial. “Because like it or not, Ms. Foxx, you own this.”

Joseph Magats, the lead prosecutor in the Smollett case, said the decision to drop the charges was his, even though he admitted to CBS Chicago that he thought the star of Fox TV’s “Empire” was guilty. He also said Mr. Smollett had not been exonerated.

Coming to Ms. Foxx’s defense Wednesday was Smollett attorney Patricia Brown Holmes, who insisted the county’s top prosecutor was not involved in the decision.

“Kim Foxx had zero to do with this. She recused herself. She was not involved,” Ms. Holmes told Fox32 Chicago.

The police union argued the state’s attorney’s office should have handed the case to a special prosecutor after emails obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Ms. Foxx had reached out to Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson about sending the case to the FBI.

SEE ALSO: John Kennedy urges feds to bring charges against Jussie Smollett

She did so after receiving a Feb. 1 email from Ms. Tchen, who said Mr. Smollett’s family had “concerns” about the investigation. Ms. Foxx responded the same day, saying she had convinced the superintendent to “Reach out to the FBI to ask that they take over the investigation.”

In a text message, a person identified as a Smollett family member said, “Omg this would be a huge victory.” Ms. Foxx responded, “I make no, guarantees but I’m trying.”

The exchange, which occurred several weeks before the grand jury indictments, unleashed a torrent of criticism about a two-tiered system of justice for well-connected stars like Mr. Smollett, who has been photographed with the Obamas.

“It’s ridiculous to recuse herself and not her entire office,” Mr. Preib said. “It should have gone to a special prosecutor.”

In an interview with NBC Chicago5, Ms. Foxx said that she informed the police superintendent about her contact with the Smollett family member, describing such contact as “not unusual.”

“It was not unusual for me to talk to a victim in a case at the time that I engaged with this family member, Mr. Smollett was considered a victim in this case,” Ms. Foxx said in the Wednesday appearance.

She said she recused herself so that the episode “could not, would not be construed, the appearance of it, to impact how we handled this case.” She also emphasized she was not involved in deciding to drop the charges against Mr. Smollett.

“So no, I didn’t make the decision that ultimately was made regarding the disposition of this case,” Ms. Foxx said. “The decision to recuse myself was a decision that I made so that I can ensure the public that I was operating transparently and clearly.”

This isn’t the first time police have locked horns with Ms. Foxx, a Democrat who rode public outrage over the 2014 police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a white police officer to her 2016 election victory.

Ms. Foxx’s campaign was bankrolled in large part by Illinois Safety & Justice, which was funded with $408,000 from Democratic mega-donor George Soros, part of an effort in at least 20 jurisdictions to elect progressive and minority prosecutors following the 2014 Ferguson shooting.

“Foxx’s election was part of a national campaign by the radical left to impose their people in key prosecutor spots, a move to fight the system from within,” the FOP said in a March 8 Facebook post.

Before the Smollett case, Ms. Foxx had built a reputation as a criminal-justice reformer by moving to reduce bail, prioritize violent crime over low-level offenses and vacate more than 60 convictions based on police misconduct, which she described to WTTW-TV as an effort to “right old wrongs.”

“We still look at conviction rates. We measure that over time. But that’s not the whole of what we do,” she said in a Dec. 20 interview. “In addition to convictions, there’s also the opportunity for us to right old wrongs.”

Police misconduct cases in Chicago precede Ms. Foxx’s tenure. The city has paid out $670 million in wrongful conviction lawsuits in the last 15 years, according to The Associated Press, and more are expected amid allegations that suspects were framed by retired Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

The FOP argued that her social-justice agenda has resulted in dangerous offenders being put back on the streets, citing the case of Melenik Jackson, who was charged Monday with the murder of off-duty Chicago Officer John P. Rivera.

The 24-year-old Jackson had struck a deal with prosecutors last year that included pleading down weapons and home-invasion charges after he was unable to raise a $5,000 bond. His probation terms included a curfew and electronic monitoring, but a judge agreed March 8 to stop the home surveillance after the batteries on his monitor died, according to CWBChicago.

“Had Jackson not been granted such a ridiculously lenient deal, he would likely still have been in prison and not been free to murder Officer Rivera,” the FOP said in a Tuesday statement.

Ms. Foxx’s office said the decision to drop the Smollett case was based on his community service — he reportedly logged 16 hours over a weekend at the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition — and an effort to focus on violent offenders. He also agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond.

The move was immediately slammed by Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called it a “whitewash of justice,” without mentioning Ms. Foxx by name.

The superintendent noted that police had devoted extensive time and resources to the case, which became international news after Mr. Smollett reported he had been attacked on a freezing Chicago night by two men in ski masks, saying they put a rope around his neck and called him racist and homophobic slurs.

“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Mr. Smollett told reporters on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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