Patrick O'Brien: Candidate profile, Cook County state's attorney
Republican Patrick W. O'Brien is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Foxx of Flossmoor in the race for Cook County state's attorney.
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what
O'Brien: Under Kim Foxx, the politically connected receive special treatment while the rest of us pay the price.
Jussie Smollett was charged with clear evidence of faking a hate crime assault and filing a false police report, yet she schemed to have all charges dropped. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb found "substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures," that Foxx and her office "breached its obligations of honesty and transparency by making false and/or misleading statements to the public," and these actions and lies "may rise to the level of a violation of legal ethics by State's Attorney Foxx."
Worse, she has failed to protect our families and neighborhoods. When presented with compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing, she has refused to charge more cases than any of her predecessors. Once cases are in the system, she's dismissed 65% more cases than her predecessor.
On the rare occurrence when she tries cases, she loses nearly half of the time, compared to previous state's attorneys who won as many as 80-85% of their cases.
At every step in the legal process, Kim Foxx has failed. That failure has made our neighborhoods and communities less safe across all of Cook County.
Q: How pertinent is the Jussie Smollett case to this election? If it should have been handled differently, how so?
O'Brien: While with a fellow former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney last year, both of our phones buzzed with breaking news alerts -- Kim Foxx had dismissed the case and dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett.
We looked at each other and I knew immediately that something had to be done to put an end to Kim Foxx's corrupt policies. Kim Foxx's corrupt actions benefited her political career at the expense of justice for the very people she is supposed to be protecting.
You can never come back from such an obvious act of corruption. Every decision you and your office make from that point on, and even decisions you made previously, are now subject to being questioned.
If you were willing to sacrifice justice for your selfish political ambition in this very public instance, what are you doing when no one is looking?
And the more we dig into Kim Foxx's record, the more we see examples of her making decisions based on a political agenda rather than the law.
Q: How pertinent is criminal justice reform to this election? What should the state's attorney's office be doing in regards to that issue?
O'Brien: Everyone should be treated equally under the law, no matter the color of their skin, their family's economic status, or whether they're politically connected.
I fully support efforts to rectify our laws when instances can be found where individuals are treated unequally. Cook County residents deserve an apolitical State's Attorney whose only agenda is to pursue justice, and that's why I'm running. I'm not a politician -- I'm a former Cook County Judge, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Assistant Illinois Attorney General, and criminal defense attorney.
I have spent my life securing justice for all. I've stood up to powerful politicians in both political parties, even when it meant sacrificing my career. Power brokers know that if they call me to try to influence my decision, I will go to a judge to get approval for a wiretap the next time they call me.
As your state's attorney, you can be assured that my office will enforce the law as written, with no political agenda.
Q: What can be done about violent crime in Cook County?
O'Brien: An important step in making our community safer would for voters to fire Kim Foxx on Nov. 3. When presented with compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing during felony review, she has refused to charge more cases than any of her predecessors.
Once cases are in the system, she's dismissed 65% more cases than her predecessor. On the rare occurrence she actually tries cases, she loses nearly half of the time, compared to previous state's attorneys who won as many as 80-85% of their cases.
We must protect victims of crime and their families and stop protecting criminals at the expense of the law-abiding citizens of Cook County. It's time we have a state's attorney who is committed to the safety of our neighborhoods and families.
I will impose consequences for people who do wrong. I will vigorously pursue criminal cases to their resolution. I will target gangs, guns, and drugs, freeing our neighborhoods from their grip. I will ensure that criminal sentences are appropriate for the crimes committed.
I will closely monitor defendants to ensure they are complying with their bond conditions. It's time that victims in Cook County received justice and families felt safe once again.
Q: How satisfied are you with the job police have done in responding to widespread protests that have taken place in the last several months? What role should the state's attorney's office play?
O'Brien: I fully support peaceful and lawful protests, and will rigorously defend and protect those who exercise their 1st Amendment rights through peaceful protests. As part of that effort, I will lead the effort to crack down on those who are using these peaceful protests as excuses to pursue lawless behavior.
In 2020, we've seen looting and rioting in Chicago and throughout Cook County like we've never seen before. Criminals have carte blanche to pillage and burn our cities because Kim Foxx has declared publicly that there will be no consequences for their criminal behavior.
Even her political allies, the Chicago mayor and police chief, blamed Kim Foxx for the continued lawlessness, because she's actively thwarted every legitimate action they've taken to reduce the violence.
I will work directly with our law enforcement and public officials to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods and communities. I will prosecute those who break the law and seek to do others harm. And, unlike Kim Foxx, I won't release rioters and looters within hours so they can go back onto the streets and return to rioting and looting.
Q: What is your position on "defunding" police departments. If you're in favor of reallocated resources, please be specific on what resources would be reallocated and where they would be spent.
O'Brien: I do not support defunding our police. Police officers risk their lives on a daily basis to keep our families and communities safe. Cutting police budgets in Cook County isn't going to help the families who have lost loved ones to the violent crime that runs rampant in our communities, and it certainly isn't going to decrease crime.
The latest surge in murders in Chicago is directly the result of Kim Foxx's failures. While police struggle to get illegal guns off the streets, Kim Foxx dismisses more gun cases than any of her predecessors. It's gotten so bad that the police and U.S. attorney's office have taken the unprecedented step of bypassing the Cook County State's Attorney in a desperate attempt to put gun crime offenders behind bars.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of Kim Foxx's failures. She refuses to charge retail theft, dismisses narcotics cases as soon as they come into the system, and fails to protect witnesses to violent gang crimes, leading to one witness being murdered by a hitman hired by a criminal against whom she testified.
She even rejects efforts by law enforcement to partner in seeking justice, depriving police of key prosecutorial tools they require.
Q: What crime should be the office's top target. Drugs? Gang violence? Child sex abuse? Something else? Why? What steps will you take to address the priorities as you see them?
O'Brien: Violent crime must be our top priority. It's time that victims in Cook County received justice and families felt safe once again. Since I already detail my position on this in a previous answer, I'll respond here with how I will do this.
Currently, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office is in a state of disarray. Criminals are free and law-abiding citizens are prisoners in their homes. The Cook County State's Attorney needs to change, and I am the leader that offers that change to restore integrity and order in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
I will bring professionalism and integrity to the state's attorney's office, ensuring that all Assistant State's Attorneys understand they are to enforce the law without regard to an individual's social standing, economic status, or political clout. I will instill order, bringing in effective prosecutors who will lead the fight for justice in Cook County long after I've left office.
And I will always act consistently with the State's Attorney Oath of Office without apology.