*** UPDATE *** He may appear, but will he really say anything? We’ll see. From Illinois Issues…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
A lawmaker who is set to enter a plea today on bribery charges also plans to appear before a legislative committee charged with deciding whether he will face disciplinary action. […]
Victor Henderson, Smith’s lawyer, said that Smith plans to appear before the House committee. “Yes. He absolutely will be appearing in Springfield in front of the committee,” Henderson said. “The representative will definitely be there and is looking forward to the opportunity to speak in some detail about where he is and his continued desire to serve and represent the people in his district.”
* It’s been expected all along that Rep. Smith would claim he was entrapped somehow into accepting a $7,000 cash bribe, so this is no big surprise…
Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith will plead not guilty Monday to a federal bribery charge, according to an attorney for the Chicago Democrat. […]
Vic Henderson is Smith’s attorney, and he’s strongly hinting he’ll argue the government entrapped his client.
“The government’s own information that is publicly available indicates that they manufactured documents, created - I think - fictitious website venues and things of that nature,” Henderson said in an interview last week.
Separate from the criminal proceedings, an Illinois House special investigating committee is looking into the allegations, a process that could end in Smith’s expulsion.
“He’s going to continue to serve as he was elected to do, and we’re going to defend him and business will go on as usual,” Henderson said.
* My weekly syndicated newspaper column expresses impatience…
State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) may have more legal troubles than his federal bribery indictment.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has told the House Special Investigating Committee that his office’s investigation of Smith has not concluded.
“I can tell you that our investigation of Representative Smith is continuing,” Fitzgerald wrote, which could be an indication that the government may file more charges.
But the active federal investigation also means that Fitzgerald refused to cooperate with the committee, which is looking into the allegations to determine if any legislative action is warranted against Smith. Fitzgerald also asked the committee to not do any investigating beyond what already is in the public record, except for interviewing Smith himself.
Smith cannot be forced to testify to the special committee, but that refusal can be held against him when it comes time to recommend whether punitive action should be taken.
Fitzgerald wrote his letter April 10, but the committee didn’t meet to discuss it until 16 days later. Another hearing may not happen for a couple of weeks. This thing is in real danger of dragging on through the summer if the committee doesn’t get its act together soon.
Last week, a member of the House committee privately defended the slow process to date, pointing to the time it took to kick former Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of office.
But Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 8, 2008 and removed from office by the Senate on Jan. 29, 2009 — a total of 53 days start to finish, including House impeachment hearings, two House impeachment votes (one before and one after new members were sworn in), Senate hearings and a full Senate trial and vote to remove.
Smith was arrested March 13, 45 days before last week’s special committee meeting. By Blagojevich standards, Smith should be removed from office by the end of this week. But as I write this, the House doesn’t appear to be close to completing the first small step in the process.
The special committee is the initial step in the process of removal (or other punishment). If it decides that punishment is warranted, another committee will be appointed to decide what punishment, if any, should be meted out. Then the full House has to debate and vote on the matter. It’ll take a two-thirds majority vote to expel Smith.
There are indications that at least some Democratic members of the House committee aren’t completely convinced that this is a slam-dunk case. As if being arrested after allegedly accepting $7,000 in cash in exchange for providing an official letter of recommendation and having it all caught on tape somehow isn’t enough to warrant some sort of punishment for Smith.
I mean, even if the guy was entrapped (and the feds are pretty good about avoiding that), he’s still heard on an FBI tape while a “cooperating witness” counts out a pile of cash for him.
Cooperating witness: “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Damn, stuck together. Six. Seven. Talk to you later.”
Smith: “You don’t want me to give you yours now? … I’m gonna get you your two, man!”
I can understand why House members don’t want to set a dangerous precedent of kicking out a fellow member after only an arrest. I completely agree that such a radical move should definitely not be a blanket policy.
But Smith was indicted on federal bribery charges directly related to his official legislative duties. This was not a drunken driving case or some minor crime relating to his personal life or something trumped up by a local, partisan prosecutor.
A recent statewide poll I’ve seen shows that just 29 percent of likely Illinois voters approve of the job that the Legislature is doing, while 61 percent disapprove. Endless dawdling on the Smith case won’t do anything to improve that pathetic standing with the public. It’s time to get this Smith inquiry moving, already.
* A different Derrick Smith has been popping up on Google News lately. This Derrick Smith owns a horse that’s racing in the Kentucky Derby. Daddy Long Legs is owned by Smith and others. I’m not sure if that’s a good omen for betting or a bad one. Your thoughts?