Republican attorney general candidate: 'Where they do not enforce the law, we will enforce it'
A Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general said if elected, he will set up a process whereby police can ask the office to step in if their county state's attorney decides not to file charges in cases law enforcement officers believe should be prosecuted.
David Shestokas, an Orland Park attorney and former assistant Cook County state's attorney, said during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board that he would assign attorneys from the attorney general's office to monitor "people like Kim Foxx in Cook County and Eric Rinehart in Lake County and other prosecutors around the state who fail to enforce the law."
"Where they do not enforce the law, we will enforce it," Shestokas said, adding his administration will create a hotline which local authorities can call when they feel "crimes should have been charged and prosecutors did not."
Neither Foxx nor Rinehart responded to requests for comment.
Shestokas is one of three Republicans seeking the party's nomination in the June 28 primary, along with Steve Kim of Deerfield and Thomas Devore of downstate Sorento.
Shestokas said if elected he would establish a law enforcement liaison for officers to bring such cases to the attention of the office and pursue them "where appropriate."
"The office of attorney general has its own investigators to follow up on the calls from officers. When that follow up reveals there is probable cause to pursue a case, (the attorney general) will do so," he said via email.
Shestokas did not cite a specific case he believes should have been prosecuted but was not, saying if he were elected and later pursued that case, "the prosecution would be compromised."
Also an attorney, Kim said if elected his office would be "laser-focused on combating crime." To that end, he said he would partner with county state's attorneys to investigate and prosecute violent offenders.
"It's absolutely critical that the people of Illinois recognize that as the people's lawyer, what I'm going to be doing is combating crime and working with state's attorneys," Kim said, adding that he would use the office's bully pulpit to "speak out against those state's attorneys who are politicizing crime."
Asked for an example, Kim's spokesman referenced Foxx's handling of the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who falsely claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men in January 2019. Less than a month later, the "Empire" actor was charged with filing a false report, after authorities say he staged the attack and lied to police about it.
Foxx's office dropped those charges without explanation, but a Cook County judge ordered special prosecutor Dan Webb to investigate. Webb found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Foxx or her prosecutors, but cited "substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures" by the office, which "breached its obligations of honesty and transparency by making false and/or misleading statements to the public regarding the nature and reasons for the dismissal of the initial Smollett case."
Smollett was re-indicted on charges of filing false police reports and convicted in December 2021. In March, he was sentenced to 150 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $140,000 in fines. Days later he was released from custody pending his appeal.
DeVore did not participate in the Daily Herald editorial board interview.
The Republicans are vying for the chance to unseat incumbent Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who is running unopposed in the June 28 Democratic primary.