A WBEZ analysis finds more than $400,000 from outside of Illinois has been spent on the Cook County State’s Attorney race.
Data from the Illinois State Board of Elections reveals that, out of the three candidates, incumbent Anita Alvarez has received the most in out of state donations with over $193,000. Challengers Donna More and Kim Foxx trail her with roughly $126,000 and $91,000 respectively.
The out of state donations show a local county race as one increasingly attracting national attention.
Many of the donors have Chicago connections. They either previously lived here, or do business in the area.
Serge Nivelle, a fashion photographer who lives in New York City, said he met Alvarez through mutual friends in Chicago and felt compelled to donate.
“She just strikes me as the kind of person who is a very hard worker and operates from a position of very high integrity,” he said.
But several cited the police shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald as their main reason for donating. Karen Grove is a philanthropist from Menlo Park in California.
“I care a lot about racial justice,” Grove said. “I think it’s [McDonald’s death] is sort of a symbol. You know it happens everywhere, and perhaps, a big step can be made in one city which can hopefully lead to others.”
Grove gave $2,000 to Foxx. Foxx has slammed Alvarez over her decision to wait over a year before releasing a video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald. Foxx has received significant contributions from prominent national Democratic donors, including MoveOn.org and Howard Dean’s PAC Democracy for America.
“I certainly think people from outside of Cook County are watching,” Foxx said. “Because we have an opportunity to get it right.”
The Alvarez campaign points out Foxx also has gotten almost $200,000 in support from Illinois Safety & Justice, a group that counts billionaire investor George Soros as a principle donor. Many of the donors to Alvarez have included trade groups and other attorneys.
In a statement, Alvarez spokesman Mike Carson said: “All told, these contributions account for approximately 3 percent of contributions to the campaign this cycle.”
More, the former federal prosecutor who has both regulated and represented the gaming industry, has received tens of thousands of dollars from casinos. The primary election is March 15th.
Ryan Katz is a news fellow for WBEZ. @ryangordonkatz.