A House panel has found enough evidence of wrongdoing to recommend the punishment process move forward for State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago, pictured). The Chicago Democrat is accused of accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from a fictitious daycare center in exchange for a support letter for a state grant. The six member panel’s job was to determine if there was enough cause to recommend punishment, and State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook says there is – even though Smith didn’t testify.
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“There was at least an allegation that he took the money into his hand, and he did not deny those charges when given the opportunity,” Nekritz told reporters at a news conference in Chicago. Smith used his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the constitution to refrain from testifying, as that amendment allows defendants to avoid self-incrimination. But lawmakers used Smith’s silence against him, as this process isn’t a criminal trial and such actions are allowed. The next step is a new, 12 member House panel, which will either recommend punishment or exoneration. If it’s punishment, the decision will go to the full House floor for debate and it’ll take a two-thirds majority to expel Smith from the House.
“There’s the recommendation of censure, of reprimand or expulsion, or he could be exonerated,” explains State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst), the first panel’s minority spokesman. “If it’s chosen he be punished in any form, it has to go to the House floor for, again, debate and a vote.” The new panel has 30 days to finish its work.