Reporting Mike Krauser
CHICAGO (CBS) – A Republican state lawmaker says he can’t believe Derrick Smith was able to win back his seat in the Illinois House, even though he’s been indicted for bribery, and he wants his colleagues in the legislature to find a way to expel Smith from the House a second time.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports state Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica), a former FBI agent, said he wonders what voters in the 10th District were thinking when they elected Smith on Tuesday by an overwhelming margin, even though Smith was allegedly caught on tape taking a $7,000 cash bribe.
“What is wrong with people that would re-elect a person that has brought such great discredit to his own district?” Sacia said. “You’re going to get that argument, ‘Well, he isn’t convicted.’ He will be. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
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At a press conference on Thursday, Smith thanked voters for supporting him, pledged to work “hand-in-hand” with lawmakers who expelled him from the Illinois House, and said he’s “a new man,” but Sacia said he’s not buying it.
“I don’t believe that a leopard changes his spots,” he said. “Whenever someone solicits a bribe, and accepts the bribe, the only word that comes to mind is despicable. I think this is a tremendous shame that the House of Representatives already expelled him, but because he has been re-elected, now we cannot expel him for the same reasons.”
Sacia retired as an FBI special agent after 28 years with the FBI. He said there are good legal minds in the Illinois General Assembly, and they need to find a way to remove Smith from the House again.
“It frustrates me terribly, first of all, that there is no mechanism that when a person is expelled, that they remain expelled,” he said. “You know, here he is re-elected, so we say your sins are forgiven? Totally, completely unacceptable.”
He said it’s not about politics, it’s about Illinois once again being a laughingstock. He also noted members of the Democratic Party also want Smith gone.
Smith has pleaded not guilty to the federal bribery charge for which he was arrested in March, and said the voters have spoken by electing him back to his seat in the 10th District after he was expelled in August.
Federal authorities have said he was caught taking a $7,000 cash bribe from a federal informant — who was wearing a wire — in exchange for his support for a state grant for a daycare center in his district. A trial date for Smith has not been set, but if he is convicted, he would be unable to stay in the legislature.