* If Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) doesn’t resign soon, he may be expelled. A special investigating committee has been formed and members appointed by both House leaders. The end result could be expulsion for the legislator arrested last week on federal bribery charges…
House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was mum on Smith in the days before the election, and Cross each named three members to the committee on Wednesday after five House Republicans requested it. That automatically triggered the committee under House rules.
Federal prosecutors allege he accepted a $7,000 cash bribe in exchange for his endorsement of a state grant application.
Sara Wojcicki says the investigation will be closed to the public. If it finds reason for discipline, a separate committee will conduct a public hearing.
* The House Special Investigating Committee membership, which has been updated this morning to show who the GOP spokesperson is…
Chairperson : Elaine Nekritz D
Republican Spokesperson : Dennis M. Reboletti R
Member: William Davis D
Member: JoAnn D. Osmond R
Member: André M. Thapedi D
Member: Jil Tracy R
The committee’s first meeting is next Tuesday morning at 11 o’clock. Per House rules, the hearings are closed to the public.
* Here’s what happens next…
The committee will consist of three Republicans and three Democrats. They will then make recommendations which could lead to another 12-man disciplinary committee that would decide whether to censure, reprimand or expel Smith.
The full House then takes up the matter. Expulsioin requires a two-thirds vote.
* I can’t disagree with anything in this Tribune editorial …
We can thank [Secretary of State Jesse White[ especially for the mess out west. White, who’s also the 27th Ward Democratic committeeman, clouted Smith into the 10th District House seat last year after he clouted incumbent Annazette Collins into the 5th District Senate seat vacated by Rickey Hendon.
“He’s an honest, stand-up kind of a guy,” White said at the time. Smith had been hired by the Secretary of State’s office shortly after being fired from his city job for allegedly misusing city resources; he says he did nothing wrong.
White stood behind Collins through a long string of ethical lapses but abandoned her in the primary after learning she had claimed a homestead exemption on a condo outside the district where she’s supposed to live. Collins was defeated Tuesday by White’s new candidate, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, who has done more for the district as a community activist than Collins has done in 11 years in the General Assembly. Look what happens when you give voters a credible alternative: They trade up.
It’s up to the West Side leadership to make sure that happens in the House too. Ald. Burnett, Rep. Davis, Commissioner Steele, Secretary of State White: The voters who supported your disgraced candidate were taking it on faith that you’d provide them a better choice by November. Do it.
* The Austin Weekly News caught up with Secretary White…
When asked if he had any ideas who he’d like to see in the seat if Smith does step down, White demurred.
“I don’t have anyone in mind right now,” he said.
* Meanwhile, Andy Shaw at the BGA had this to say about Rep. Smith’s primary victory…
Better Government Association Executive Director Andy Shaw said Smith’s election win was disappointing.
“That’s terribly discouraging, not just because the voters gave him an overwhelming victory, but because so many well-respected politicians – including Congressman Danny Davis – actually endorsed him and encouraged people to vote for him for a simple reason – he is the Democrat,” Shaw said.
According to Shaw, Smith’s election win shows Illinois politics is in the gutter.
* Congressman Danny Davis’ explanation…
Davis said that while he asked voters to cast their ballots for Smith, it was about ensuring the seat stayed in Democrat control and was not a show of support for Smith. Davis said Smith should not appear on the November ballot given the ethical cloud he now faces.
“I was glad to see Derrick win the election, but I think in reality one can say that Democrats won the election,” Davis said. “I don’t think they were necessarily voting for Derrick, but I think they were saying ‘Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.’”
“It’s not just about the man, but it’s also about, as Ossie Davis said, the plan,” Davis said. “So I think people were intelligent enough, they were wise enough, they understood enough that they wanted to give themselves another chance to get a good, solid Democrat to represent them.”
* Kinda weak…
The leaders who have joined the chorus for Smith to step down include Gov. Pat Quinn and Smith’s top political backer, Secretary of State Jesse White.
“The governor thinks he should step down. He thinks [Smith] is not going to be able to be an effective representative for his constituents given the circumstances. The governor would urge the representative to step down as soon as possible,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Wednesday.
Quinn on Saturday tiptoed around Smith’s bribery charge, calling his race a “tough call for voters,” but one “they’ll be able to sort out.” Other top Dems, including U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) even campaigned for Smith after he was arrested.
When Smith was charged, White did not address whether his protege should step down, only issuing a brief statement saying “I am very disappointed with the conduct alleged in the charges. I am confident this case will be handled fairly and justly by the judicial system.”
White’s call Wednesday for Smith to resign had nothing to do with the primary results, a White spokesman said.
“After reviewing the situation, having time to think about it and overcoming some of the shock of the original charges, he feels that the people would be better represented if someone else was in that spot,” White spokesman Dave Druker said.