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Bill Conway’s new campaign ad attacks State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Jussie Smollett, using her own words against her

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/10/2020 By Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune

With just a week before Election Day, Bill Conway released a new campaign commercial attacking Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx over the ongoing Jussie Smollett case, this time using her own words against her.

The new 30-second ad uses audio from a recent interview Foxx had with the Chicago Reader’s Ben Joravsky on his podcast. It zeroes in on Foxx’s derogatory characterization of the case she offered during the interview.

“The issue with Smollett is bull----,” Foxx says in the ad. The commercial repeats her saying that line twice and poses the question in text: "If Foxx doesn’t understand what she did wrong, what will stop her from doing it again?”

Cook County prosecutors last year charged Smollett with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a fake racist and homophobic attack against himself to boost his career. Foxx’s office sparked a controversy after prosecutors unexpectedly dismissed the charges.

A special prosecutor had Smollett, who is known for being an actor on “Empire," indicted for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself to boost his acting career, reversing Foxx’s decision last year to drop all charges.

“The reputation of the city of Chicago wasn’t marred by Jussie Smollett,” Foxx says in the ad, as her image is plastered to the screen. Then the commercial features a mashup of news reports from when the high-profile, nationally watched case was unfolding.

The ad will be broadcast both on network and cable television starting Tuesday, a Conway spokeswoman said.

“We’re putting six figures behind (airing) this commercial,” she said, but declined to offer a specific dollar amount. “The Jussie Smollett scandal will not go away. "

"This tone is a stark difference from what she’s said before.”

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In her interview with Joravsky last week, Foxx expressed disappointment that it’s been a year since the Smollett incident happened and yet it has become the focus of many interviews and conversations. The commercial highlights a part of her quote, but in the 40-minute interview, she said much more about the case.

“This issue with Smollett … 'cause I’ll just take it head on … we’ve got 12 days left … is … excuse my language … is bull----. Sorry,” she said. “Hold me accountable. Absolutely. We could have done a better job of explaining how this fits in the context of the work that we do. And in the process of doing it, we owed a greater level of transparency to the people of Cook County.”

Foxx went on to explain that the false confessions that put innocent men in prison were more damaging to the city’s reputation than this high-profile case.

Besides Conway, Foxx is facing two other Democratic challengers: former federal prosecutor Donna More and former Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti.

So far, this state’s attorney election has become one of the most expensive races for that seat in recent history. Combined, the candidates have raised more than $16 million to spend on commercials, mailers, radio spots, staff and other campaign expenses.

Conway leads the candidates in fundraising. He has collected about $11.4 million. But his campaign has been financed mostly by his billionaire father, William Conway, founder of the D.C.-based investment firm, the Carlyle Group. Foxx has pulled in about $3.6 million but she’s relied on huge infusions of cash from labor unions, political action committees, special interest groups and a handful of wealthy benefactors.

lbowean@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @LollyBowean

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©2020 the Chicago Tribune

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