by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer
CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx has won an important round in her bid for re-election, after a hearing officer recommended she stay on the ballot in the March primary, overruling a rival candidate's objections to her nominating petitions.
Hearing officer Barbara Goodman reviewed Foxx's nominating petitions after the campaign for Democratic rival Bob Fioretti, a former alderman, sought to have her removed from the ballot, claiming she hadn't gathered enough valid signatures on her petitions.
Goodman's review of the 20,762 signatures Foxx submitted left her with 10,641 valid signatures – 3,362 more than she needs to stay on the ballot.
Fioretti's lawyers argued that the sheer number of signatures deemed to not be genuine shows a "pattern of fraud," and asked Goodman to throw out all of her petitions.
However, Goodman noted Fioretti's campaign could not provide any actual evidence of fraud.
In her finding, Goodman wrote Fioretti's lawyers "submitted no affidavits, no testimony of a handwriting expert, no testimony of an investigator, and no other evidence of any kind other than summaries of the total number of invalid signatures by circulator and the respective sheets of the circulators."
"As [Foxx] correctly pointed out, something more than a showing of the number of non-genuine signatures is required to show fraud," Goodman wrote. "Having received no persuasive evidence of any kind in order to cause a change in the total number of signatures deemed valid after the records examination, the Candidate's nominating papers contain a sufficient number of signatures for placement on the ballot."
In a statement shared on Twitter, Foxx said she never doubted she would make it on the ballot.
"I am glad to see that the Hearing Officer has made her recommendation. Our volunteers worked hard to get us on the ballot, and questioning the legitimacy of our signatures is, unfortunately, an old fashioned campaign tactic," she wrote. "We always knew that our opponents had no basis to their claim of signature fraud. The Hearing Officer's recommendation to the Electoral Board confirms that."
Fioretti campaign manager Nathaniel Holcomb said the hearing officer's recommendation shows the county's election system is "rigged and corrupt."
"Kim Foxx's, whom is a sitting states attorney turned in petitions with nearly half of her signatures (49%) deemed invalid, should not have been allowed to be placed on the ballot," Holcomb wrote in an email.
Goodman's recommendation will now go to the Cook County Officers Electoral Board for a final ruling. The board next meets on Thursday, but has not yet published an agenda for that meeting, so it's unclear if they'll take up Foxx's case then.
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