Kim Foxx-Jussie Smollett fallout: former unknown prosecutor with deep pockets eyes primary challenge

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Bill Conway wants to race against Kim Foxx for the Cook County state attorney's Democratic appointment.

Bill who? Glad you asked

Conway, 41, spent six years as a state attorney with Richard Devine and Anita Alvarez, acquiring the skills he most recently used as an officer in the US naval intelligence, helping to break the flow of Taliban money from illicit narcotics.

At the local level, he worked in the section on financial crimes and special prosecutions, prosecuting various government officials and employees for misconduct, including three police officers.

As an active duty Naval Reservist, he was sent to Qatar in 2017 and put to work tracking down the Taliban's supply of money, leading to a series of bombings in Afghanistan's drug processing laboratories that made it subject of a profile of the New York Times.

Conway has a degree in law from Georgetown, a M.B.A. at the University of Chicago and a degree in Accounting from the Wharton School.


Bill Conway, center, a Navy reservist preparing to run for Cook County State lawyer

Bill Conway, center, a Navy reservist preparing to run for Cook County attorney, oversaw a team of military analysts in Afghanistan who tried to cut off funding for the Taliban by bombing drug laboratories.
Photo of the US Air Force

There is another small factor to consider: his father, William E. Conway Jr., is the co-founder of billionaire The Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity companies in the world.

Young Conway says she has not made a final decision on the possibility of challenging Foxx in her re-election offer, but if she launches a campaign, she said she expects to dedicate "significant personal and family resources" to the tender.

Many believe that Foxx is politically vulnerable towards 2020 due to the continuing repercussions on its management of the Jussie Smollett case, which rose again on Friday when a Cook County judge decided that a special prosecutor should review the matter.

It is said that many challengers observe the competition. But Conway is the first person I found willing to raise his hand and ask to be considered.

Conway missed the pre-season meeting of the Cook County Democratic Party, and told me he will not seek the support of the organization if he runs.

"I think the State Attorney's Office should be independent of the Cook County Democratic Party," he said. "Frankly, this is not my crowd. I don't know those people."

At this point, party leaders are expected to remain loyal to Foxx.

Asked why he wants to be the state attorney, Conway cites his position as assistant in charge from 2006 to 2012 and the satisfaction he has had from working on behalf of victims of crime.

"Frankly, it was the best job I've ever had," he said. "I am very passionate about my time as ASA and that office. And I don't think the office is headed in the right direction and, frankly, I humbly suggest you know how to solve it."

"First of all, I want to bring true integrity and independence to that office," he continued. "By this I mean that we should all play by the same rules. We enter the criminal justice system as a victim or as a defendant, race, sex, sexual orientation, postal code, whether we are connected or not , none of these things should matter in the way the case is handled. "

That was a not so veiled reference to the accusations that Foxx had had on Smollett's influence.

Speaking of Smollett, Conway said, "Look, I'm not particularly interested in Jussie Smollett. I didn't want him to go to jail. I don't think most people did. But the point is that we took the onion and saw that the case was treated differently because someone who was connected contacted and asked to be treated differently ".


Cook County attorney, Kim Foxx, left; The actor Jussie Smollett, right. Photo file.

Cook County attorney, Kim Foxx, left; The actor Jussie Smollett, right. Photo file.
Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times; Paul Beaty / AP

After the charges were dropped on Smollett, Conway intervened to represent another woman, Candace Clark, who had been the subject of a Sun-Times story about a judge's complaint that she would be treated harder by the ; Foxx office for a very similar crime.

Conway managed to improve her plea bargain slightly, but claims that she was treated unfairly. He said he would accept the case even though he wasn't making the preparations to run against Foxx.

If elected, Conway said he would put more emphasis on the persecution of public corruption cases and will also draw on his experiences of hitting the Taliban to track down the money supply in firearm offenses.

Strangely, Conway did not practice the law. After taking his MBA while working for the state attorney, he spent three years as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan.

Since returning from active duty with the Navy, Conway has taught finance at DePaul University and runs a family investment fund. He got married last August.

Conway is a complete stranger, but he has the kind of money that can make a candidate for the first time a competitor.

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