By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD – House lawmakers charged with deciding possible discipline for indicted Rep. Derrick Smith have denied his attorney’s request to delay the final hearing.
Victor Henderson, Smith’s Chicago attorney, on July 6 asked the committee to delay the hearing for at least 30 days after July 19, the scheduled date for the final hearing. Henderson said he needed more time so he could ask the federal court to modify a protective order and allow him to use some kind of unidentified evidence at the hearing.
Smith, a Chicago Democrat, is under federal indictment, charged with taking a $7,000 bribe in his job as a state legislator.
The House Select Committee on Discipline responded Wednesday that it saw no point in waiting because the U.S. attorney has repeatedly said any evidence revealed during the committee hearings could jeopardize Smith’s criminal case.
“There is therefore no need for this committee to await the outcome of litigation over the protective order in federal court – the committee already has its answer,” it wrote in its denial. “The U.S. attorney has consistently indicated that he believes a modification of the protective order would hinder his investigation, and thus this committee will not entertain any evidence currently covered by that protective order.”
Smith was in court Thursday afternoon and could not be reached for comment. He previously told Illinois Statehouse News the committee is moving too fast and lacks the information it needs to make a fair decision.
“All you’re doing is undercutting the system of Democracy we have. We might as well be in Communist Russia if this is the way things are going to proceed,” he said. “This is not something you’d expect to see from one of the greatest states in the union.”
Members of the bipartisan Select Committee on Discipline are charged with deliberating possible professional punishment for Smith. It has four options: Smith could be expelled, censured, reprimanded or exonerated.
The 12 House lawmakers appointed to the committee will act as jurors who hear Smith’s case. Two other lawmakers will “try” the case.
The committee and Smith last week submitted witness and evidence lists.
The committee’s evidence list includes transcripts of prior hearings, the criminal complaint against Smith, the court protective order, a copy of Smith’s oath of office, Smith’s statement of economic interest, Smith’s ethics training attendance record, entries into the Journal of the Illinois House of Representatives showing Smith participated in official House business, and letters from lawmakers to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The committee’s witness list has just three people: Smith and two court reporters who transcribed prior hearings.
Smith is not on the witness list Henderson submitted. It has two people: a confidential source who assisted federal investigators in their probe of Smith and an FBI agent who worked on the case.
Henderson’s evidence list includes reports provided by the confidential source, the agent’s affidavit and information about the employment history and criminal background of the confidential source.
An earlier committee, the House Special Investigating Committee, determined enough evidence existed to proceed with possible discipline.
Jayette Bolinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.