FOP do­nates nearly $58K to foe of Foxx

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN AND RACHEL HIN­TON Staff Re­porters Con­tribut­ing: Sam Charles

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.”

Pat O’Brien

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