The controversial prosecutor whose office dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett following his staged hate crime won reelection Tuesday, boosted by a flood of outside money from liberal billionaire George Soros.
Kim Foxx, state's attorney for Cook County, Ill., was declared the winner of her primary after receiving 50.2 percent of the vote. Foxx fended off three Democratic challengers, including well-funded opponent Bill Conway, a Navy veteran, who finished with 31.3 percent of the vote. Former federal prosecutor Donna Moore garnered 13.4 percent. Former Chicago alderman Bob Fioretti received 5 percent.
Foxx's victory was propelled by money from deep-pocketed liberal donors and groups who zeroed in on her reelection efforts. The largest was Soros, who poured $2 million into a state-level PAC created for the sole purpose of keeping Foxx in office. The PAC poured more than $1 million into advertisements attacking Conway.
Foxx faced national criticism last March when prosecutors from her office dropped the felony charges against former Empire actor Smollett.
Smollett claimed that a pair of masked men attacked him on the streets of Chicago and alleged the assailants called the deep-blue city "MAGA country" and hurled racist and homophobic slurs. A police investigation found that Smollett hired two men to fake the attack, leading to 16 felony charges for disorderly conduct. Foxx’s office dropped the charges, but only after Foxx spoke to a relative of Smollett at the request of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff. Foxx did not notify Chicago police of the agreement, which did not call for Smollett to admit guilt, reportedly leaving police "furious."
Opponents tried to focus the race on Foxx's handling of the Smollett case, accusing the prosecutor of favoring the politically well-connected.
"With Jussie Smollett, the State's Attorney showed that the politically connected get better deals than other people," Conway said in February. "The State's Attorney is supposed to be a beacon of public trust so people do not lose faith in the criminal justice system and clearly that trust was violated."
Fioretti followed suit, saying Foxx "treated Smollett differently than others because of his celebrity" and "brazenly lied to the people of Cook County."
Though Foxx claimed she recused herself from the case after speaking to Smollett's family, she later said she only recused herself "in a colloquial sense." The prosecutor said she handed the case to an "acting state’s attorney," but a county judge later ruled that such an attorney does not exist under state law. A special prosecutor was assigned to the case in August, and a grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging the actor with making false police reports in February. Foxx called the indictment "political."
Despite Foxx's handling of the Smollett case, Soros was not alone in his attempt to save Foxx. She was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), musician John Legend, and failed presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.). Foxx also received six-figure donations from billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, NewsWeb corporation chairman Fred Eychaner, and Grosvenor Capital chief executive Michael Sacks. Each gave between $100,000 and $600,000 to her campaign. Many of the donors entered a prosecutor race for the first time to prop up Foxx.
A number of progressive groups joined the wealthy donors. EMILY's List, the SEIU, and the Real Justice PAC all pushed hefty donations to Foxx.
Soros has funded numerous far-left prosecutor and district attorney candidates across the country. His money often goes to individuals who oppose the death penalty, campaign against prosecuting marijuana crimes, and seek to reduce incarceration rates by bringing lower-level charges for more serious crimes.
Soros's preferred candidates have racked up wins thanks to the major money advantage the billionaire gives them. He has backed Kim Gardner, St. Louis's circuit attorney; Aramis Ayala, state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties in Florida; Stephanie Morales, the Portsmouth, Va., commonwealth's attorney; and Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's district attorney, among others.
Foxx's race was the first time a Soros-backed candidate did not have the financial high ground. Conway's father, a billionaire, spent millions backing his son's candidacy. The funds at Conway's disposal could explain why the other liberal megadonors jumped into the race to support Foxx.
Whitney Tymas, the treasurer for Soros's criminal justice PACs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the campaign funding.
Foxx will face Republican Patrick O'Brien, a former assistant state's attorney, in the solidly Democratic county in the November elections.