On a day when Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Dent was honored in the Illinois House, it seems the only person reporters wanted to talk to was a guy named Derrick Smith. State Rep. Smith (D-Chicago) appeared Tuesday in Springfield for the first time since his March arrest alleging he offered to write a letter of recommendation in exchange for a $7,000 bribe.
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Smith accepted handshakes and pats on the back but did not address the chamber or speak to reporters. A lawmaker who chairs a committee on which Smith serves wants Smith removed. “Someone who has been accused of wrongdoing – a superintendent, for instance – what you typically do is you place that person on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome,” said State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo). “I think this is akin to that.”
“There had to be some form of misjudgment in this instance, and it’s unfortunate,” said another colleague, State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago). “He’s got a long road ahead of him, and I told him I wished God’s blessings upon him so that he could get through this and that the people of the 10th District and the state of Illinois could come through this.” A House committee has convened to investigate Smith, the first step toward his possible expulsion. That committee’s work is on hold until the U.S. attorney’s office completes some more steps. Voters in Smith’s district chose him in the March 20 primary for the Democratic nomination in November, despite his troubles.