Updated at 8:11 a.m.
The special prosecutor investigating Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s conduct in the case against former Empire actor Jussie Smollett revealed Monday he had co-hosted a 2016 political fundraiser for her at his powerhouse law firm and contributed $1,000 himself to her campaign.
Dan K. Webb, co-chairman of Winston & Strawn, filed a two-page declaration in Cook County criminal court that says, when he was appointed to the Smollett case six weeks ago, he “had no recollection” of making the donation or attending the fundraiser.
The fundraiser took place Oct. 13, 2016, seven months after Foxx vanquished incumbent Anita Alvarez in the Democratic primary for state’s attorney and weeks before Foxx coasted to victory in the November general election.
Webb’s declaration says Foxx arrived late for the “sparsely attended” fundraiser and addressed the attendees.
Webb, a Republican, attributed his role in the event to his law firm partner Kimball Anderson. Webb’s declaration calls Anderson a Foxx political supporter who organized the fundraiser at Foxx’s request.
“To show support for my partners, I almost always contribute to the political fundraisers they are sponsoring at the firm, unless I have some specific reason why I do not want to support the candidate,” Webb wrote in the declaration.
“Anderson advised that he does not recall me attending the fundraiser,” Webb wrote in his declaration, addressed to Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, who appointed Webb special prosecutor.
Webb’s declaration says his Foxx donation was brought to his attention last Tuesday by Michael Bromwich, a personal attorney for Foxx. Bromwhich “made it clear” that the state’s attorney would not claim any conflict of interest or “have any other objection related to this contribution,” Webb wrote.
A Foxx campaign spokeswoman late Monday declined to say whether the state’s attorney believes Toomin should remove Webb from the probe.
The spokeswoman, Alex Sims, said Foxx is “asking for a transparent investigation” into the allegations against the state’s attorney and her office.
Foxx’s campaign also issued a statement that says her campaign notified her of the contribution last Tuesday.
“Mr. Webb was notified that same day, and my office continues to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Foxx said in the statement.
Webb’s declaration includes a copy of a $1,000 check from Webb’s personal account to “Friends for Foxx.” The check, dated one day before the fundraiser, includes a handwritten memo, “Kim Foxx State’s Atty Campaign.”
The declaration also includes a copy of an invitation to the fundraiser that identifies Webb as one of three “hosts.”
Webb’s declaration asks Toomin to schedule a hearing on the matter Friday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
The case has enthralled the news media since January, when Smollett reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago. At first, Smollett drew support from actors and politicians across the country.
But he became an object of national scorn after a Chicago Police investigation led to charges that his police report was false.
Then Foxx’s office abruptly dropped those charges in March, creating a firestorm of controversy and accusations that Smollett got special treatment because of his star status.
Suburban police chiefs and the union that represents rank-and-file Chicago cops seized on the controversy and called on Foxx, a criminal-justice reformer, to resign.
Toomin appointed Webb as special prosecutor to look into why Foxx’s office dropped the charges. Webb, a former U.S. attorney for the Chicago area, has had numerous high-profile clients in his private practice and has acted as special prosecutor in other cases.