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CHICAGO (CBS) — Some of the same Democratic Party leaders who supported Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) are now forming a third party looking for someone to run against him.
Smith continues to serve in Springfield. He won the Democratic primary in March, even after being arrested on federal bribery charges, and he has since refused to step down.
Thus, the 10th District Unity Party has decided to improvise. They have set up a questionnaire in search of what they call a “top-notch” candidate.
Prospective candidates have only until Friday to submit their résumés.
Smith pleaded not guilty late last month to charges that he took 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.
Smith says the FBI used “shenanigans” to build its case and pressure people to “say bad things about me.”
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, the aide gave Smith $7,000 in cash, purportedly from the fictional daycare owner, according to federal prosecutors.
Smith’s attorney, Victor Henderson, had harsh words for federal agents for not revealing the full criminal background of a government informant when prosecutors asked a judge to allow the informant to wear a wire to record Smith’s conversations.
In addition to the indictment, an Illinois House Panel is considering whether to seek disciplinary action against Smith, such as a formal reprimand or removal from office. Smith has refused to testify under oath before the panel.