FOP donates nearly $58K to foe of Foxx
Determined to become “a real player in Chicago politics,” the Fraternal Order of Police has infused its political action committee with cash and made the maximum legal donation — $57,800 — to the Republican nominee for Cook County state’s attorney against incumbent Kim Foxx.
The FOP endorsed former Cook County Judge Pat O’Brien and put its money where its mouth is after Foxx was blamed, in part, for a second round of looting and just days after Special Prosecutor Dan Webb found “substantial abuses of discretion,” but no evidence of criminal misconduct, in Foxx’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case.
Union president John Catanzara said the maximum donation had nothing to do with Smollett, the former “Empire” actor re-indicted for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself. It was, instead, about ending lawlessness in Chicago by removing a state’s attorney with a social agenda who has made the city a dangerous place to live, work and visit by going too easy on criminals, Catanzara said.
“We need a different direction for law and order in this city and Pat O’Brien is the guy to do it. As much as Kim Foxx is not the person to do it, Pat O’Brien is. He’s gonna abide by the law and prosecute criminals,” Catanzara said.
The union president had a laundry list of things Foxx hasn’t done during her tenure.
“Ignore the law. Play games with it. Empty out the jail. Defer prosecutions. Not prosecute felony drug cases . . . which is ridiculous considering the drug trade fuels the gangs and the gangs are the biggest employer in this city,” he said.
“The only reason she’s making a renewed push to look like she’s prosecuting all of these looting [cases] is because she was finally understanding the blowback. She knows she’s got an election coming up.”
O’Brien got a standing ovation after speaking to union members at their monthly meeting Wednesday night, according to an FOP source.
The FOP’s donation is the largest single contribution ever made by the union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers.
Still, Foxx campaign spokesperson Alex Sims was dismissive.
“We, as a campaign, are not at all surprised that the FOP, who marched alongside the white supremacists who marched on the state’s attorney’s office, are now supporting Pat O’Brien, the same person who wrongfully convicted three black men,” Sims said.
Sims was referring to the 1986 kidnapping, rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Lori Roscetti in Chicago. O’Brien was lead prosecutor in the case. Four men were convicted — three sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, the fourth to 12 years.
DNA evidence missed by a crime lab analyst led to the exoneration of the four men. They were pardoned by then-Gov. George Ryan.
O’Brien isn’t surprised the Foxx campaign would “play the race card” to avoid defending her record of going easy on criminals.
As for the Roscetti case, O’Brien said it “went through three juries that found the three young men guilty” and appeals processes that “sustained those convictions.”
“It was only a decade later, with the advances of DNA, that the convictions were reversed and the young men were freed,” he said.
“I had two court-reported confessions that were taken by state’s attorneys, plus third-party admissions to other people in the neighborhood,” O’Brien said. “One of the defendants actually testified in the final trial against his co-defendants . . . . There was never any wrongdoing shown on my part.”
O’Brien also served as an assistant Illinois attorney general and did two tours in the state’s attorney’s office. He is trying to become the first Republican elected state’s attorney in Cook County in more than a quarter of a century. Jack O’Malley was the last.
Thanks to the FOP and support from Guaranteed Rate founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli and other business leaders, O’Brien said he has raised $150,000 in the last three days. That’s not enough to blanket the airwaves. But it’s a start, he said.
“Ordinary citizens and people in the business community are really upset with what’s going on,” O’Brien said.
“The looting is obviously a big hot-button. But the looting is simply the culmination of her failed policies. She doesn’t charge offenders. She dismisses cases when they get into court. She loses more cases than she wins. And she refuses to recognize the fact that the state’s attorney’s office is the voice for the victim,” he said, adding that Foxx “seems to identify more with the people who commit crimes.”