SPRINGFIELD – The hottest topic in conversations was the Mueller investigation conclusion, and then suddenly, a pronouncement by the Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett and seal the record away from public scrutiny changed things dramatically.
Before the end of the day, State Rep. Michael McAuliffe – the only Republican that has any Chicago constituents – came up with an idea to punish Smollett by prohibiting any production that includes the actor would not benefit from Illinois Film Tax Credits.
“A lot of valuable Chicago Police Department (CPD) man hours and resources were wasted chasing down a bogus crime arranged by Smollett,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Hate crimes are serious and so is the time and effort of the CPD. He has cost Chicago a lot more than a $10,000 bond. Smollett should not be able to get anything more from the City of Chicago or Illinois.”
Actor Jussie Smollett was indicted on March 8th on 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself, a statement from McAuliffe's office said.
"Both the hate crime purported by Smollett in January and his subsequent arrest for orchestrating the attack garnered nationwide attention," McAuliffe's office said. "The media frenzy and the false police report forced the Chicago Police Department to dedicate resources that could have been better spent addressing gun violence and other, very real public safety threats."
Illinois and the City of Chicago have become premier destinations for movie and TV show productions. To maintain the thriving film industry and encourage growth in the entertainment sector, Illinois offers a significant 30% Film Tax Credit. An additional bonus of 15% is available on labor expenditures in high-poverty areas, and requires a diversity plan for production hiring. Under Rep. McAuliffe’s legislation, any movie or TV production that employs the actor would forfeit that credit or any other credits administered by the Illinois Department of Revenue or the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
“Where the City of Chicago is concerned, Jussie Smollett is far from exonerated,” Rep. McAullife continued. “While the State’s Attorney has chosen not to pursue justice in this case, we need to send a message that Smollett’s actions are not a reflection of the values we have in Chicago and won’t be tolerated. His accusations and lies caused a lot of pain to all Chicagoans.”
Rep. McAuliffe says he will be filing the bill this week.