* I Tweeted this concept yesterday because it seemed pretty obvious. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who saw things that way…
Call it the Rod Blagojevich defense.
Indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, refused to answer questions from the Illinois House committee tasked with recommending whether he should be impeached.
Instead, he read from a statement Thursday — “I intended to fight this charge and clear my name” — and then punted to his attorney, Victor Henderson, who didn’t confirm or deny accusations related to Smith accepting a $7,000 bribe to steer a $50,000 state grant to a day care.
Henderson ducked direct answers to questions posed by the committee members and House attorney David Ellis and recycled the strategy used by now-federal-inmate Blagojevich’s law team.
“We want all of the facts out,” said Henderson, a partner in Henderson Adam LLC, the same law firm that represented Blagojevich, during the House Special Investigative Committee hearing.
“We want everything to see the light of day,” Henderson said later.
Blagojevich used this strategy when the General Assembly impeached him and during the federal trial that led to his conviction on corruption charges for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Barack Obama became president.
Blagojevich and his lawyers would claim that if only the public could hear the whole tapes, not just excerpts like when Blagojevich said, “I’ve got this thing and its (expletive) golden and I’m just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing,” they would see he was innocent.
* In my opinion, Henderson did his client more harm than good yesterday…
Henderson was unmoved by a warning from Rep. Dennis Reboletti, the committee’s top Republican, who said the panel has a much lower standard of fault-finding than Smith would face in federal court.
“I haven’t heard you disagree that the conversations that are in this complaint, on the wire, ever took place,” said Reboletti, who’s from Elmhurst. “I would suggest that is enough for this committee to take action and most likely deliberate and suggest we move forward with the House to punishment.”
Smith is accused of accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from a fictitious daycare center to write a letter of support for a state grant.
House prosecutor David Ellis told Henderson the panel wants to know if the letter exists, as alleged in the criminal complaint.
“The official act that Rep. Smith is accused of committing is writing this letter of support. Is there something that you want to tell us about this, something that you can point to in the criminal complaint that is incorrect, taken out of context?” Ellis asked. “We’re trying to figure out… did he write this letter?”
Henderson wouldn’t confirm or deny the letter exists. He said he’s waiting for the federal government to release all its information so he can compare it with the criminal complaint. The committee’s timetable is unclear, but Smith is expected back in court at the end of the month.
* The big stall was clearly on…
Victor Henderson, Smith’s attorney, said he will ask a federal judge May 30 to release all available information but noted that prosecutors oppose doing so.
Henderson told lawmakers that he is “not in a position to confirm nor deny” the allegations in the federal complaint because he has not received much information to date. He urged lawmakers to wait until more information is available before the House takes action in the Smith matter.
“You don’t want to shoot and ask questions later. You want to ask questions and then decide,” Henderson said.
Whatever. His client is doomed.
* Indicted Rep. Smith refuses to answer House panel’s questions
* Rep. Derrick Smith doesn’t answer questions on bribery charges
* Lawmaker says he’ll fight to clear name
* Ill. lawmaker won’t answer queries in House probe
* Indicted state lawmaker refuses to testify before House Panel
* State Rep. Charged With Bribery Tells Investigative Committee He’s Innocent