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Fri August 17, 2012
Illinois House expels Rep. Derrick Smith
For the first time in more than a century, the Illinois House has voted to kick out one of its members.
Derrick Smith, a Democrat who had represented the west side of Chicago, is charged with taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a daycare secure a state grant.
Although he's fighting the charge in court, legislators say his removal is warranted because it's clear he crossed the line.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D- Chicago, says it's an action she doesn't take lightly.
"Using one's office for personal gain, not for the public good, is an affront to the core responsibilities of every legislator,” she said. “To act in this way is to me a stunning violation of the oath of office each of us has promised to uphold. I can think of no greater breach of the public trust.
"Sometimes actions are so egregious, so contrary to the core values of each of us into this institution that we must act. And we must act now."
State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, D-Addison, pointed to work the General Assembly has to take up.
"We're here to talk about pensions. We're here to talk about this state's economy and about the future of 13 million residents," said Reboletti, a member of the committee that investigated Smith. "How can we do that when one of our members and a stakeholder in this state has serious federal charges of corruption leveled against him?"
A handful of Representatives, who questioned the House's hasty ousting of Smith, stood by him. The final vote was 100 to 6, with three members voting present.
House Speaker Mike Madigan, also a Chicago Democrat, announced the results:
"With 100 people voting aye and 6 people voting nay, the resolution having received the constitutionally required vote, the resolution is adopted and representative Smith is hereby expelled from the House of Representatives. Mr. Clerk, please remove Derrick Smith from the roll of the House."
Smith's name was immediately removed from the rolls, and erased from the electronic voting boards at the front of the House chamber.
But that may not be the end of Smith's political career. He's still on the ballot for November's election, and he says he’ll remain an active candidate.
That concerned Rep. Mary Flowers. "Irregardless to what we may say or do about his behavior, what we think about him, what we inferred, there is nothing that we will do here today that will stop him from coming back," she said.
"And then what? Then what? Do we put him out again? Do we expel him again? What are the standards?"
A court conviction would make that moot, because felons are barred from serving in Illinois' General Assembly.