Attorney: Smith Won’t Resign, Despite Bribery Indictment
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Updated: 04/10/12 – 6:12 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An attorney for indicted State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) said the lawmaker won’t step down, despite calls for his resignation from many top Illinois Democrats.
Smith, who was formally indicted Tuesday on charges he took a $7,000 bribe, “has no plans to step down,” according to defense attorney Victor Henderson.
Not only that, but Henderson told WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller that the government provided inaccurate information to the judge in Smith’s case.
“I think that’s going to be unfolding as we speak,” Henderson said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office had no comment on Henderson’s claim.
Several top Democrats, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White — who was Smith’s political mentor — have said Smith should resign over the charges against him.
Smith’s indictment on Tuesday came as Chicago Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who represents part of Smith’s district, said the lawmaker has been leaving his constituents without representation in Springfield since his arrest.
Smith has not spoken publicly himself since his arrest and has not attended legislative sessions in Springfield during that time.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Ervin isn’t exactly asking Smith to resign, but he says it’s a problem that he won’t be working as a legislator while he fights federal bribery charges against him.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
“We’re saddened at the fact that Representative Smith has missed over 150 votes I the General Assembly since his arrest,” Ervin said. “While we understand that Representative Smith has a right to due process and a right to defend himself, he does not have a right to stay at home, not represent the district, and also collect a paycheck.”
Smith is accused of taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for his endorsement of what he thought was a daycare center’s state grant application. The daycare center itself was real, but the owner Smith was allegedly trying to help was fake, part of a sting by the FBI.
On March 2, Smith provided the aide with an official letter of support for the daycare owner to obtain a $50,000 Early Childhood Construction Grant from the state’s Capital Development Board. In return, during a recorded meeting this past Saturday, the aide gave Smith $7,000 in cash, purportedly from the fictional daycare owner, according to federal prosecutors.
Tuesday’s indictment does not add any new allegations against Smith, but takes him a step closer to trial. An Illinois House special investigative panel that had been looking into the allegations against Smith had postponed a hearing scheduled for this week, in anticipation of the indictment. The panel could vote to seek disciplinary action against Smith, such as a formal reprimand or removal from office.
Smith won the Democratic primary for re-election to the 10th District last month, a week after he was arrested on the bribery charges, but has not made any public statements since his arrest and has not attended legislative sessions in Springfield.
Ervin, who represents much of the same area on the city’s West Side, says Smith should either go back to work or step aside.