State House Expels Rep. Derrick Smith
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UPDATED 08/17/12 1:42 p.m.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The Illinois House of Representatives has voted to expel state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago).
The House voted 100 to 6 to expel Smith, with three members voting present. Smith is the first member to be expelled from the Illinois House in 107 years.
Lawmakers acted on the recommendation of a select committee that earlier voted of 11 to 1 in favor of expulsion. The committee said expulsion was the only remedy for a breach of the public trust such as the bribery charge of which Smith is accused.
He is charged with taking a $7,000 cash bribe in exchange for his endorsement of what he thought was a daycare center’s state grant application.
After the vote, Smith appeared at a news conference in Chicago and read a prepared statement.
“I intend to remain on the ballot and run for office in November,” Smith said, adding he believes he still has support among voters in his district. He left abruptly after reading the statement and did not take questions from reporters.
WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports the hearing took about an hour and a half. Smith was not present to defend himself, but few lawmakers questioned whether Smith should be expelled before he goes through criminal proceedings.
But those in favor of expulsion, including Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said the standard for expelling a member from the House is not guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as in a criminal proceeding.
Furthermore, Lang pointed out that while Smith had told lawmakers he “intended to fight” the charges and said he had entered a plea of not guilty, he did not actually deny wrongdoing.
“Not so hard if he didn’t do it” to say so, Lang said.
Smith previously asked his colleagues for some time to clear his name. But he has refused to answer their questions about him.
His attorney, Victor Henderson, told WBBM Newsradio last month that lawmakers are rushing to judgment without being allowed to see information held by prosecutors, which he seeks to release.
“We are confident that once all of the information comes out — and again, I’m going to emphasize all of the information — that the representative is going to be exonerated, and that’s what we’re trying to do as we speak,” he said in the July 7 interview.
At the hearing, state Reps. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) and Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) argued that maybe guilt beyond reasonable doubt should be the standard for expulsion.
Even though Smith has been expelled, his name remains on the November ballot, and the House cannot act to expel him a second time. He is being challenged by Lance Tyson, a onetime chief of staff for former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, is running against Smith under the banner of the 10th District Unity Party.
In a statement, Tyson said: “Rather than think of Illinois as the state that gave us George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich and now expelled Derrick Smith, I continue to look at Illinois as the state that has given us President Barack Obama.
“I am proud of my Democratic values and I look forward to continuing my conversations with voters across the 10th Legislative District as I work to become their next State Representative.”