Foxx And Feds: Feud Festering?

For Kim Foxx, Toni Preckwinkle, and the wrongful conviction lawyers in Chicago, everything had been going great.

The only fly in the ointment in their crusade to secure the top prosecutor’s job in Chicago was a distant voice from a loudmouthed billionaire with delusions of becoming president. This evil rich man, Donald Trump, was running around claiming the system, in particular the media, was rigged.

But these accusations from the Republican wilderness were hardly a serious concern for the Chicago cabal, in large part because the local and national media were dutifully ridiculing Trump for even making such a suggestion.

What? Us crooked? they asked. We have journalism degrees, from Northwestern University, no less. What is this horrible rich man talking about?

They had also determined that Trump would never get elected. So who cared?  

So perhaps the most politically radical faction of the Democratic party in Chicago eyed its greatest prize: the office of Cook County State’s Attorney.

And what a prize it is, for Foxx is the disciple of longtime Chicago political leader Toni Preckwinkle, head of the county board and key player in the city’s political machine. The head prosecutor’s job would be the trifecta for Preckwinkle’s political faction, a virtual stranglehold on the county and city, a position that would grant her almost unfettered power to pursue the political agenda that has been the foundation of her career.

And what is that foundation? Much of Preckwinkle’s political power is rooted in what is commonly referred to as the wrongful conviction movement, the movement that claims the police and prosecutors are corrupt and racist. Throughout much of her career, for example, Preckwinkle has championed the crusade against former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men, claiming they were guilty of systemic abuse against African American suspects.

So getting Preckwinkle’s political disciple in as state’s attorney no doubt makes wrongful conviction law firms salivate. These law firms and their allies have come a long way from the 1960s when they and their buddies were calling for revolution, attacking the “pigs,” and supporting domestic terrorist groups like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.

Nevertheless, there were several hurdles to overcome in Preckwinkle’s crusade to get Foxx in as prosecutor, none of them too challenging for her political machine. For one, they had to beat the incumbent, Anita Alvarez, who did not kowtow to their anti-police, anti-law-and-order agenda as obediently as Preckwinkle wanted.

Even though Alvarez was polling better than Foxx up until the last few weeks before the primary, Foxx reportedly got a crucial helping hand from her fellow far-left activist ally and billionaire George Soros (clearly some billionaires are more offensive than others).

The Chicagoist:

But Kim Foxx has also found two other sources of cash, in the form of twin $300,000 donations to a Super PAC supporting her called Illinois Safety & Justice. The sole donors to the PAC are neoliberal superdonor and conservative-boogeyman George Soros and a "dark-money" group called Civic Participation Action Fund.

It was part of a larger move by Soros to impose his ideological anti-police allies in top prosecutor jobs around the country.

Politico:

While America’s political kingmakers inject their millions into high-profile presidential and congressional contests, Democratic mega-donor George Soros has directed his wealth into an under-the-radar 2016 campaign to advance one of the progressive movement’s core goals — reshaping the American justice system.

The billionaire financier has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district-attorney campaigns in six states over the past year — a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.

With this cash infusion, Foxx saturated the airwaves, particularly the suburbs, and carried the crucial primary.

So what will it be like to have a Preckwinkle disciple as state’s attorney? What will happen to law and order in the city, the criminal justice system? What will Foxx do?  

The public didn’t have to look too much beyond her swearing-in ceremony to find out.

Like worms that suddenly appear on the sidewalk after a summer rain, former Governor Patrick Quinn, according to news reports, showed up at the event.

Tribune:

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Preckwinkle, Public Defender Amy Campanelli and former Gov. Pat Quinn were among the more than 200 supporters and prosecutors on hand.

Quinn hasn’t made too many public appearances since he left office after being defeated by Bruce Rauner in a bitter fight. One likely reason Quinn stays out of the public eye is that someone might raise their hand—not a member of the press, certainly, but someone else, like a police officer, for example—and ask him about his decision to release two men from prison moments before he left office without any explanation for his decision.

One of the men Quinn released, Howard Morgan, was convicted of trying to murder four Chicago police officers. Morgan fired seventeen rounds at the officers in 2005 during a traffic stop, striking three of the officers, who survived. After nine years and two trials, the officers finally won a hard-fought conviction.

After all Morgan’s appeals were exhausted, prosecutors and cops figured he would be forced to serve his forty-year sentence. But this is Cook County, run by the likes of Toni Preckwinkle, backed by Patrick Quinn.

Quinn commuted the sentence of Morgan without explanation minutes before his scandal-plagued administration ended.

Quinn released another man at the same time, Willie Johnson.

Willie Johnson was shot nine times outside his home in 1992. But Johnson was actually lucky. His two friends were killed in the same shooting. 

Johnson’s testimony played a key role in the criminal trial against the two offenders in the shooting. Both men were sentenced to life without parole. 

Seventeen years later, Johnson came forward and announced that he had not told the truth in the original criminal trial. But a Cook County Judge rejected Johnson’s retraction, saying it was a lie, and Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez, in an exceedingly rare instance of standing up to the wrongful conviction movement, charged Johnson with perjury. He eventually pled guilty.

But that’s not all there is to it. Campaign contribution reports reveal that prominent wrongful conviction law firm Loevy and Loevy backed Foxx in the election, the same Loevy and Loevy that was involved in bringing forth Willie Johnson with his recanted testimony, the same Willie Johnson that was convicted of perjury, and then released by Quinn.

Could Foxx and Preckwinkle have sent a clearer message to Chicago police officers by inviting Quinn to the swearing-in ceremony, inviting the governor who sneaked out of prison a police shooter and a man convicted of perjury in a crucial wrongful conviction bid? Foxx might as well have spit at the police during her ceremony.

But even as Foxx was sworn in with the likes of Quinn beaming the witless smile of a politician whose entire career was based upon patronage, not ability, there was that nagging voice claiming that the system was rigged.

Here is why it was so annoying. At the same time the wrongful conviction movement was gaining in power, evidence of corruption within the movement also emerged. Preckwinkle’s cabal ignored it.

Now the evidence is more powerful than ever, so much so that it rivals many of the accusations against police and prosecutors, and still Preckwinkle and Foxx are silent about it.

Consider wrongful conviction case that’s central in the state’s history, in many ways the lynchpin of the wrongful conviction narrative. In the past four years, the exoneration of Anthony Porter in 1999 for a double murder has imploded in the face of new evidence pointing to wrongdoing at Northwestern University’s Innocence Project.

Last year, a judge stated that Porter’s exoneration was likely a ruse. The controversy surrounding the Porter exoneration has initiated similar claims of misconduct in other exoneration cases, claims that other guilty men may very well have been set free.

Again, Preckwinkle and her lackey Foxx have never said a word about this evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, they chanted the mantra of police corruption.

Equally important, there was no response to this evidence by the Department of Justice. Yet the evidence is so compelling, one is forced to ask: Why did federal authorities, in particular the attorney general, never observe or address the evidence of alleged wrongdoing in the wrongful conviction movement?

If a judge stated that there was misconduct in a central wrongful conviction case that may have released a guilty man, as he did in the Porter case, and then other evidence emerged pointing to a pattern of such misconduct, why have the Feds not taken a look at it?

In other words, how could Preckwinkle’s wrongful conviction allies operate with such impunity from federal oversight, especially when Preckwinkle in Chicago and Obama’s minions in Washington were running around demanding more and more investigations into law enforcement? Checks and balances are supposedly built into the political and legal system. If so, where were they?

The answer may go back a long way, to the early years of Obama’s career on the south side of Chicago. Obama, after all, owes much of his early political success to Preckwinkle, who took him in and supported him when Obama made his first moves from community organizer to professional politician.

From The New Yorker:

Preckwinkle soon became an Obama loyalist, and she stuck with him in a State Senate campaign that strained or ruptured many friendships but was ultimately successful. Four years later, in 2000, she backed Obama in a doomed congressional campaign against a local icon, the former Black Panther Bobby Rush. And in 2004 Preckwinkle supported Obama during his improbable, successful run for the United States Senate.

There is another reason the DOJ likely never took a look at the corruption in the wrongful conviction movement. Obama was too busy waging his own federal war on the criminal justice system. He did so by politicizing the Department of Justice, by trumping up allegations of “systemic racism” (sound familiar?) against various municipalities, including Chicago. He used legendary police haters Eric Holder, then Loretta Lynch as the Attorney Generals who spearheaded these “investigations.”

The Sun Times:

Obama’s Justice Department has forced 19 departments across the U.S. into so-called consent decrees, court-monitored agreements that mandate sweeping reforms— more than the Justice Department under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Law enforcement officials condemned the investigations. Sheriff David Clarke, from Western Journalism:

“The President of the United States has been leading the chorus in slandering and maligning the character and the integrity and the service and the sacrifice of our nation’s law enforcement officers,” he said.

Clarke added, “What officers fear is some witch hunt, this ongoing witch hunt by the civil rights division [of the DOJ] taking over law enforcement agencies all across the nation. I think they’re up to 21 now that have consent decrees where they move in and federalize that agency. And then they’re looking to snag some law enforcement officer for some minor transgression.”

Signs of Obama’s politicizing of the DOJ emerged in other ways. Consider, for example, the Madison Hobley exoneration.

Hobley was sent to death row for committing in 1987 an arson that killed seven people. Hobley walked free from death row in 2003. Loevy and Loevy, the law firm involved in bringing in Willie Johnson’s retracted statements to a court hearing, testimony that was eventually deemed perjury, played a central role in Hobley’s release as well.

Hobley’s exoneration was unique in that no new evidence pointed to his innocence. He was simply pardoned by Governor George Ryan. Someone, somehow, got to Ryan in releasing Hobley, the same way someone got to Quinn in releasing Morgan and Johnson.

Not everyone was happy about Hobley’s exoneration, particularly among federal law enforcement. After he was released, federal investigators began reviewing the arson in an investigation that could lead to Hobley being recharged federally for the crimes.

But then Barack Obama, Preckwinkle’s old political ally and mentor, was elected president. To the shock of many federal law enforcement officers, the DOJ decided not to pursue a case against Hobley. Instead, the DOJ used the Hobley case as the basis to indict Jon Burge.

Whether one believes Burge is guilty of abusing suspects or not, the evidence of Hobley’s guilt remains overwhelming and the methods employed to exonerate him are rife with potential misconduct.

One investigator close to the federal Hobley investigation was ATF agent Jim Delorto: 

The evidence in the Hobley arson case is so overwhelming and of such specific detail and volume that no jury in any court would not have found him guilty beyond any doubt. In my eight years as supervisor of the ATF federal bomb and arson task force, there has never been a clearer case of guilt. For the federal government not to have pursued this case, in which seven African Americans were burned to death, was unconscionable and unprecedented.

This undermining of the federal Hobley investigations took place in the first few months of Obama’s presidency. Afterward, Obama’s DOJ never interfered with the wrongful conviction crusade in Chicago. Instead, Obama remained focused on going after local law enforcement agencies, bolstering the mythology of police racism and misconduct that also formed the basis of the local wrongful conviction narrative.

At the end of Obama’s term that would “transform” America, murder rates and other violent crimes have exploded across the country, particularly in the African American neighborhoods that Obama and his DOJ claimed they were trying to protect.

Much more of this “transformation” and these neighborhoods may degenerate into a violent chaos, with the weakest citizens facing the greatest harm.

And so all this brings us back to the swearing-in ceremony of Kimberly Foxx. That lone voice in the woods claiming the system is rigged defied all the odds. Donald Trump is President-elect.

Trumped named a law-and-order Attorney General in Jeffery Sessions to succeed Obama’s Loretta Lynch.

Checks and balances, to everyone’s surprise, are suddenly restored.

As a consequence, a reckoning is taking shape, one that will not only sort out two widely disparate political philosophies, but one that could also determine, once and for all, whether the system is indeed rigged, and how much.

Where better for a federal attorney general to start than the criminal justice system of the most Crooked City? 

Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, which played a critical role in the release of Alstory Simon from prison, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.

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