Although Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx submitted nearly three times the number of signatures needed to be placed on the ballot, challengers argued on Monday that more than half of her nominating petitions were improperly completed and she should be disqualified from seeking reelection.
Attorneys for Bob Fioretti, who is running against Foxx, said that a review of her 20,762 signatures showed that thousands of them were problematic — either the address didn’t match the signee properly or the collector didn’t label the petition with the proper address listed on voter records. Ultimately, the discrepancies represented a “pattern of fraud,” attorneys argued.
“We have a clear fraud,” said Jeffrey Greenspan, adding that because Foxx is the county’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, she has a special obligation to get it right. “It’s a little different from a regular situation because there is an extra duty here.”
Foxx’s attorneys said that there is no evidence to support such bold claims and that Foxx collected well above the required number of signatures, anticipating that some might “innocently” be deemed illegitimate. Residents signing at shopping centers, train stations and other public venues may not always give the right address, and some enthusiastic residents might sign for their entire families — a move that’s improper but not illegal.
“The reason we aim toward two to three times (the required signatures) is because there will be innocent mistakes,” said Ed Mullin, who represented Foxx at Monday’s hearing. There is “zero evidence of fraud,” he said.
The arguments were made at the last hearing related to the challenge of Foxx’s nominating petitions. Now, the hearing officer will examine both arguments and make a recommendation to the election board — which will ultimately decide if Foxx can stay on the March 17 ballot.
Such hearings are commonplace in the political theater that leads up to an election in Cook County.
First candidates submit their nominating petitions — usually in a showy way on the first and last days of filing — so they can be placed on the ballot.
Foxx’s staff submitted her filing early. She was selected to appear first on the primary election ballot, which some believe will make it easier for voters to find her name on the voting ticket.
Nominating petitions frequently face challenges because if a candidate is found to not have enough valid signatures, he or she can be disqualified from running.
Besides Foxx, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger had his petitions challenged in his quest for a seat on the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, as did Michael Cabonargi, who is running for Circuit Court clerk.
Last week, Stroger withdrew as a candidate in his race. Cabonargi’s case is still pending a decision by the election board.
On Monday, attorneys said that after a more intricate review of Foxx’s signatures, 10,641 were deemed valid — which puts her above the 7,279 she needs to stay on the ballot. But her objectors said they wanted more scrutiny given to the signatures collected by 25 circulators. If those signatures are deemed invalid, as they wish, Foxx would fall short by 561 signatures.
Besides Fioretti, former Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Conway and former county and federal prosecutor Donna More are challenging Foxx for her seat.
The objection to Foxx’s petition that was heard Monday was filed by Nathaniel Holcomb of Chicago. But Fioretti has said he is the force behind the objection.
?2020 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.