SPRINGFIELD – Freshman lawmaker Derrick Smith was booted from the Illinois House of Representatives Friday amid allegations that he took a bribe.
“At no time ever has Rep. Smith denied these charges,” state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said. “He’s running for election in a few months and he hasn’t even said to his constituents, ‘I didn’t do it.’ All of that worked very negatively against him.”
During Friday’s special legislative session, Smith’s seat was conspicuously vacant.
His colleagues voted him out of the Illinois House on a vote of 100-6.
“As a member of the General Assembly we need to be upholding our oath of office and not taking side deals,” said state Rep. Pam Roth, R-Morris. “What he did – or allegedly did – was clearly try to put his self-interest ahead of the interest of his district. He has failed his district and he failed the legislative process.”
Smith is under federal indictment stemming from an undercover operation.
Smith was arrested in March by federal agents who contend he wrote a letter pushing for a $50,000 grant for an imaginary operator of a day-care center in exchange for $7,000.
It’s really sad,” said state Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Bradley. “As we continue to fight the perception of corruption in the state of Illinois – this doesn’t help.”
Others said allegations against Smith are not only indicative of corruption but also of foolishness.
“I don’t know why in this day in age anyone would do something like that. There are no secrets,” said Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan. “Of course, that was no-no before there were any ethics laws. This just puts a black eye on everybody. It creates the thought that everybody is corrupt and I don’t think that is true. I think there are a lot of good people in the House and the Senate.”
Smith remains on the Nov. 6 ballot, and voters could choose to send him back to the House.
State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said by taking action Friday the House helped preserve its reputation.
But to what extent Smith’s alleged actions harmed the General Assembly’s reputation is a bit of an open question.
State Rep. Rich Mothland, R-Cordova, said “Smith did tarnish the institution. But it is Illinois. There is a pretty dull finish on it as it is.”