New Smollett Charges Could Complicate Reelection for Chicago Prosecutor Kim Foxx

The new charges against Jussie Smollett pour salt on the wound of Kim Foxx, who was once considered a rising star until her decision to drop charges against Jussie Smollet made her a target for ridicule and charges of possible corruption.

In the heavily Democratic district, Foxx, a Democrat is still favored to win, but will have to answer difficult questions.

Foxx claims that the new charges against Smollett are politically motivated, despite the overwhelming public notion that it was a mistake for Foxx to drop charges in the first place.

USAToday reports the decision to restore charges against Jussie Smollett could bedevil the reelection bid of the first black woman to hold Chicago’s top law enforcement job and potentially alter the trajectory of a prosecutor once seen as a rising star in Illinois politics.

The charges drew a stinging public response from Kim Foxx, who quickly raised the specter of a conspiracy against her. Foxx’s statement was also an acknowledgement that the renewed case accusing Smollett of staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself could undermine her quest for a second term as Cook County state’s attorney.

The indictment issued Tuesday was ushered in by a special prosecutor who reviewed the decision by Foxx’s office 11 months ago to abruptly drop the initial charges against Smollett. That decision was unjustified, he said, in part because the evidence against Smollett seemed overwhelming and because he was not required to admit that the attack was a hoax.

The 47-year-old Fox is still widely considered the front-runner and the odds-on favorite to win. But questions linger about whether she acted improperly by speaking to a Smollett relative and a onetime aide of former first lady Michelle Obama before the charges were dropped, or by weighing in on the case after recusing herself. The special prosecutor said he planned to submit a report on whether there was wrongdoing by county prosecutors in coming months.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx at the courthouse in Chicago, Feb. 23, 2019. Foxx’s campaign released a statement Tuesday that referred to then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision in 2016 to briefly reopen an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails shortly before the presidential election that Donald Trump won.

“What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision” five weeks before the Illinois primary, the statement said. The charges “can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive.”

Smollett’s lawyer, Tina Glandian, struck a similar chord, saying the attempt to “re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”

The indictment accuses the black, openly gay actor of making a false police report in claiming two men attacked him early on Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago, shouting slurs and looping a rope around his neck.