Chicago judge said on Friday that he will not replace a special prosecutor for research in which the state’s prosecutor’s office abruptly dismissed charges against actor Jussie Smollett, dismissing concerns that campaign money could skew the results.
The judge’s ruling at a hearing days after the special prosecutor, former US Attorney Dan Webb, published in a filing that he co-hosted a fundraising in 2016 for Kim Foxx and wrote of his $ 1,000 campaign, check during his successful execution in the Cook County of the state’s attorney.
It was Foxx’s office that in March surprised and irritated many in Chicago by laying charges that accused the former “Empire,” the actor’s racist staging, homophobic attack against himself. Smollett is still insistent that the attack was real and it was not a publicity hoax.
Judge Michael Toomin seems to give no credit to Webb’s concerns of disclosure because of his untenable position, as the head of a politically sensitive investigation that could, according to his findings, lead to the reinstatement of charges against Smollett.
Interested in Jussie Smollett? Add Jussie Smollett as an interest to stay updated on the latest Jussie Smollett news, video, and ABC News analysis. Jussie Smollett Add Interest
“There is no indication,” the judge said, that the 74-year-old former attorney-turned-star private sector lawyer “hosts no bias … to a third party. “
Webb is a consummate insider who has been sought after by a long list of wealthy and powerful clients, including tobacco giant Philip Morris and Ukrainian energy oligarch Dymitro Firtash. He is very respected in legal circles.
Before Toomin ruled Friday, Webb told the judge that he has no reminder of the fundraiser, which he said he does not think he attended. He also said he does not remember the cup of the box until someone brought it to his attention a week ago.
“I do not know Mrs. Fox …. and I have never met her, I know, “he said. “It’s not even remote from a case that involves a conflict of interest. “
Webb’s investigation includes consideration of whether Foxx calls with a parent Smollett and former aide-de-camp of ex-first lady Michelle Obama unduly influenced the decision to drop charges. Foxx recused herself of the case, but continued to weigh.
the finding, by the special prosecutor that, originally charges against Smollett badly fallen could also politically damages Foxx, who in 2016 became Cook County is the first black woman in the state of his attorney.
A Foxx representative at Friday’s hearing, Attorney Cathy McNeil Stein, told the court that her boss did not initially have a problem with Webb staying on. But she told the state’s attorney now worried that a Webb perception had a conflict “will affect the process of” in the eyes of the public.
Retirement Judge Sheila O’Brien, who started legal proceedings leading to a special prosecutor, okay. She praised Webb’s legal rigor, but said Toomin: “The concern I have is … what does the average person on the street think? “
Smollett lawyers do not have to take a stand on replacing Webb. They opposed the appointment of a special prosecutor, arguing that the case should remain closed.
A flyer from the Webb fundraiser included in his yard filing listed him with the other two as hosts of the event. Webb is a Republican, and Foxx a Democrat.
In explaining his decision not to replace Webb, Toomin cited Webb records paid money to state-run lawyers for years, including $ 3,000 to Foxx Democratic’s main opponent in 2016, holder Anita Alverez.
“It’s common practice for lawyers to do (for example) contributions,” Toomin said.
Webb echoes that of his filing, saying that he has no reminder of the fundraising policy for Foxx is that they are so common to his high-powered Winston & Strawn law firm. lawyers.