Cook County, Ill., prosecutor Kim Foxx won Tuesday’s Democratic primary despite controversy over her handling of the hoax hate crime case brought by actor Jussie Smollett.
“This win is about all of us,” Foxx wrote on Twitter after the win. “I’ve spent the last four years working to reform a system that is not representative of the communities it serves – I’m ready to continue this work.”
Foxx beat three primary challengers, all of whom made her handling of the Smollett case a central issue of the campaign. Cook County is heavily Democratic, meaning Foxx will almost certainly be reelected as county prosecutor in November.
Smollett, an actor on the television show Empire, was allegedly the victim of a racist, anti-gay hate crime in early 2019. However, the investigation of Smollett’s case soon uncovered allegations the actor had staged the incident.
In February 2019, a grand jury indicted Smollett for allegedly staging the crime. In March, Foxx dropped all charges against Smollett, citing the “victimless” nature of the alleged hoax. Foxx was criticized for the decision by Chicago police and by attorneys in the Cook County prosecutor’s office.
“This case was handled markedly different from any other case at 26th Street,” an anonymous Cook County attorney wrote following the decision. “No one knows why, and more importantly, no one can explain why our boss, the head prosecutor of all of Cook County, has decided to so demean and debase both our hard work, and our already tenuous relationship with the Chicago Police Department.”
In February 2020, Smollett pleaded not guilty to felony charges brought by Chicago special prosecutor Dan Webb that the actor had staged a hate crime hoax.