The unfolding saga surrounding Empire actor Jussie Smollett has understandably captured a lot of attention lately. (To recap: Smollett alleged that he was a victim of a homophobic and racist assault, was charged with faking the attack, and then had those charges fully dropped.) But the longer it goes on, the more some people seem dead set on absolutely losing their minds over the whole thing.
Speaking with CNN on Thursday, Republican State Rep. Michael McAuliffe said that he was introducing a bill to punish any production company that might hire Smollett while looking to do business in Illinois.
“It made Chicago a national laughingstock of the nation,” McAuliffe told CNN anchor Brianna Keilar. “Someone like Jussie Smollett or someone else that would commit the same kind of act should not benefit from this generous, robust tax credit that is offered from the city of Chicago residents and the taxpayers of the state of Illinois.”
In the meantime, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has said he plans to bill Smollett for the full cost of the investigation into his alleged assault, and the subsequent charges against him.
A reminder here that Chicago is believed to have spent a whopping $700 million to settle police misconduct allegations and judgements since 2010—something that seems like a much more important thing for lawmakers to focus on, rather than targeting a single individual for a single incident which has been legally nullified and is extremely murky.
Currently Illinois offers a 30% transferrable tax credit for qualified productions to film in the state. Last year alone, film and TV production brought in nearly half a billion dollars for Illinois’ state economy. In an email, a spokesman for the Illinois Film Board explained that because Smollett was not a resident of Illinois, his personal wages did not qualify for the state tax incentive, and that Empire contributed around $200 million to the state over the past five years while “employing hundreds of Illinoisans.”