CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said Saturday he hopes state lawmakers find a way to oust Derrick Smith from the Illinois House again, after he was re-elected despite being ousted by his colleagues over his bribery indictment.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports White went from being the political mentor who helped Smith get appointed to the Illinois House to unsuccessfully attempting to stop Smith from getting back his seat in Springfield after the House voted to expel him in August.
After Smith was arrested by the FBI in March for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe, he still won the Democratic primary and refused to leave the race, despite pressure from top members of his own party, including White.
His colleagues in the House took steps to remove him from office, culminating in the August vote to expel Smith from his seat.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports
However, Smith won his seat back on Election Day, beating an independent candidate backed by White, Gov. Pat Quinn and other top Democrats by a 63-37 margin.
“It’s a black eye for the people of this wonderful state of ours. More importantly, it’s a black eye for the people of the district,” White said.
Some want to toss Smith out of the House again after he takes back his seat in January. They can’t expel him a second time for the same reason, but White said lawmakers should do “whatever they can” to kick him out again.
“I wish them well, because the people on the West Side of the city of Chicago have had its fair share of individuals who have been in violation of the law. Pretty close to 12 of them have either been indicted, gone to jail, or are in the process of being indicted. So, enough is enough,” he said.
As for those who say Smith should not be punished without having been convicted of a crime, White said “here is a lot of history when it comes to Derrick Smith. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have been a part of helping him get the appointment, and I would have disassociated myself from him.”
Smith has pleaded not guilty to charges he took a $7,000 cash bribe from a federal informant posing as the head of a daycare center in his district. Smith allegedly took the money in exchange for his support for a state grant for the daycare center.
Smith’s attorneys have suggested Smith was entrapped by the feds, and have argued the judge should throw out recordings of Smith’s conversation with the informant, because prosecutors did not reveal the informant’s entire criminal record in the complaint against Smith.
But White isn’t buying that Smith was the victim of entrapment.
“Can you imagine – 118 state representatives and 59 state senators – why would the federal government seek him out, giving him an opportunity to receive $7,000 in the form of a bribe?” White said.
Smith’s trial date for that bribery charge has not yet been scheduled.