A state lawmaker has spoken publically for the first time since his arrest on charges of bribery. State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) appeared in court Monday for his arraignment where he pleaded not guilty to a federal bribery charge. The government alleges that Smith accepted a bribe in exchange for using his influence to obtain a state grant for a daycare center. Smith says he will fight the charges.
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“I look forward to having the opportunity to clear my name,” Smith told reporters after court. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty. Smith was arrested March 13, days before Illinois' primary election where he won the Democratic nomination despite his arrest. Several state leaders have called for Smith to step down but Smith says he will stay in office and continue working for his constituents. “It would be shallow for me to solely focus on my challenges while ignoring theirs,” Smith said. “God gives all of us a cross to bear and this lawsuit is mine.” A special legislative committee is reviewing whether Smith should be removed from office.