Kim Foxx secures Cook County Democrats' endorsement ahead of 2020 primary

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Cook County Democratic Party is standing behind State's Attorney Kim Foxx in the lead up to the 2020 primary, despite the firestorm of criticism she's received after dropping charges against Jussie Smollett.

The Smollett case will certainly be a campaign issue, and Foxx had to answer questions about her decision on Friday. But the current state's attorney secured her party's endorsement heading into next year's primary.

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The endorsement came after Foxx made her case to Cook County's 80-member Democratic slating committee Friday.

"When I ran in 2015, I said I was running to transform the way the Cook County State's Attorney's Office operates," Foxx said.

Foxx cited her efforts to focus on prosecuting violent felonies over misdemeanors, but she couldn't avoid questions about her office's decision to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett.

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"Empire" actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett told Chicago police in January that two men physically attacked him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs. There have been dozens of twists and turns since then.

The "Empire" actor and R&B singer had alleged he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, a claim police later said was a hoax.

"We don't treat anyone differently whether you are a celebrity or an average citizen," Foxx said. "How we disposed of the Smollett case, while for some disappointing in the outcome, was no different than we treated others with a nonviolent offense."

RELATED: Kim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'

Foxx had recused herself from the high profile case. But when the charges were dropped, with Smollett's only penalty being to forfeit his $10,000 bond, the mayor was incensed.

"It is without a doubt a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you're in a position of influence and power you'll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way," said Chicago's then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Foxx has called Chicago's prosecutor's office "the most transparent... in the country."

Despite that claim, Foxx fought the release of documents related to the Smollett case and only did so after a judge ordered the files be made public.

RELATED: Jussie Smollett case: Cook Co. State's Attorney's Office releases 6,000+ pages of documents

Now a special prosecutor will be asked to investigate her handling of the case.

Still, those concerns did not phase the slating committee, or the party chairperson.

"She is definitely one of the most transparent state's attorneys in the country," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Foxx will face at least one challenger in the Democratic primary next year.

Bill Conway, a former assistant state's attorney, didn't appear before the slating committee, but his billionaire father recently broke the cap for donations by contributing half a million dollars to his son's campaign.
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