By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House lawmakers on Friday kicked out indicted Rep. Derrick Smith, who faces a federal bribery charge for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe in connection with his job as legislator.
Neither Smith nor his Chicago attorney, Victor Henderson, were present for the vote in Springfield. At a Chicago news conference after the vote, Smith said the ordeal allowed him to learn who his friends are, adding that friends “stick by you through thick and thin.”
The six representatives who voted against expulsion were all Democrats: Anthony DeLuca of Crete; Mary Flowers of Chicago; Rita Mayfield of Waukegan; Arthur Turner of Chicago; and Karen Yarbrough of Broadview.
Three members of the chamber’s Black Caucus – Jefferson, Davis and Flowers – sided somewhat with Smith ,who also is black, questioning the timing and the process to kick him out. They also questioned whether the expulsion process respected Smith’s right to a due process.
Flowers said Smith’s not-guilty plea in federal court allows lawmakers to “infer” Smith is not guilty.
Other lawmakers said Smith and his attorney had opportunities to appear before the House discipline committees and say the lawmaker was not guilty, that he did not do the things he was accused of and that it was not his voice on federal wiretaps that recorded the alleged bribery transaction.
Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said Smith had more rights during the expulsion process than former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had during the impeachment proceedings in the General Assembly.
Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said the vote was one of the most difficult but important votes the House would ever take.
Smith remains on the Nov. 6 ballot in his home district, but he no longer has backing from the state’s Democratic machine. His bribery arrest came after the March primary election. He faces Lance Tyson, a Democrat who is running as a “Unity Party” candidate with Democratic backing.