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Question of the day

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012

* Some House members want to again remove Representative-elect Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) from the chamber

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Jim Sacia, a former FBI agent from Pecatonica, said Smith must be removed because his alleged activities make Illinois a “national laughingstock.”

Kicking out Smith again could prove difficult because the Illinois Constitution prohibits a lawmaker from being expelled more than once over the same set of circumstances. It’s a provision akin to a double jeopardy clause, lawmakers from both parties said Thursday. If Smith is convicted in federal court, however, he would have to leave the House once more.

Sacia insisted “there has to be a way” and said he would gather the best legal minds of both parties soon to hunt for options to remove Smith again.

“There are those out there that have the attitude that, ‘If you’re not convicted … there is no need to throw someone out of the General Assembly,’” Sacia said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. He brought great discredit to the Illinois House and the General Assembly as a whole.”

Republican Rep. Jim Durkin, a former prosecutor from Western Springs who presented the first expulsion case against Smith, said the only way he sees to remove Smith a second time would be if federal prosecutors file more charges against him that allege misdeeds while he served as a lawmaker. Rep. Elaine Nekritz, the Northbrook Democrat who oversaw hearings on Smith’s legislative case, agreed with Durkin’s assessment.

Maybe they could oust him for picking his feet in Poughkeepsie.

* The Question: Do you think the General Assembly should try to find a way to remove Derrick Smith from office yet again? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    They should oust him, but the timing might depend on how fast the Feds act.

  2. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:53 am:

    Not sure why they felt the need to include a Double Jeopardy type clause here. No one has a right to hold public office, far different from a right to be free from multiple prosecutions and have your freedom threatened for the same offense.

    If a lawmaker does something sufficient to be kicked out of office, and they come back, kick them out again. No reason they shouldn’t be able to kick them out as many times as necessary to keep them out. If it turns out they were wrong the first time, just stop kicking them out.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    ===No reason they shouldn’t be able to kick them out as many times as necessary===

    That would require a constitutional amendment.

  4. - train111 - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:57 am:

    I voted no. If the Feds have that much of an ‘open and shut’ case, he will be gone soon enough. Otherwise it’s just another round of political posturing and unnecessary nonsense when the GA has much more important things to work on.


  5. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:57 am:

    Is it en embarrassment that Smith will be back in the GA? Yes. It’s embarrassing to the Jesse White organization, the House Democrats, the GA as an institution. Should they try to kick Smith out? Yes. But maybe they shouldn’t have been so sure of themselves that he would be replaced and maybe they shouldn’t have put all their eggs in one basket in regards to the expulsion. The holier-than-thou attitude of those booting Smith is now booting them right in the behind.

  6. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 11:59 am:

    No. Unless the feds follow up with new charges, the GA should wait out the trial result as I understand is required by law. Illinois already is a lauging stock, and it doesn’t seem Smith’s conduct makes Illinois look any worse. With two governors in jail and maybe a Congressman (and his wife?) on the way and government employee pensions mentioned almost every day in the business press as some of the worst in the nation, why draw more negative attention to the state. There are plenty of other more pressing issues for the GA to worry about. Legislators should just shun the guy if they believe he’s dirty.

  7. - blogman - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:07 pm:

    Illinois is already a “national laughingstock”. They did not envision this before the first hearing? I don’t believe that for a minute.

  8. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:11 pm:

    No, they had their shot. Let the courts resolve this.

  9. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    Correct, Rich. It would require a Constitutional amendment now. I’m curious as to why they felt the need to include that provision in the first place.

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:16 pm:

    I’m indifferent. There have been members under indictment that served until they were convicted. Somehow, the Dome still stands. He has no clout, anyway.

    –On Thursday, Republican Rep. Jim Sacia, a former FBI agent from Pecatonica, said Smith must be removed because his alleged activities make Illinois a “national laughingstock.”–

    Well, gee whiz, if that’s the standard, I guess Rep. Bost ought to pack his bags. The country sure was laughing.

    They’d be laughing even more if they’d paid attention to some of the tomfoolery over the years.

    By the way, why is Rep. Sacia always referenced as a “former FBI agent,” anyway? What special status is that supposed to confer upon him?

  11. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:17 pm:

    “He brought great discredit to the Illinois House and the General Assembly as a whole.”

    Well who doesn’t in the General Assembly?

  12. - TJ - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    Yes, they should…. and I’m sure that they’re looking into the feds to see if they can tack on one more charge just to expel him for that.

  13. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    I’m not supportive of D. Smith, but his electorate did re-elect him with very strong numbers. Shouldn’t they get the representation they want even if other Illinois citizens don’t want him? If he’s convicted, he will be out soon enough.

  14. - Third Reading - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:26 pm:

    In 1905, representative Frank Comerford was expelled because he “besmirched the good name and reputation of (the) General Assembly.” (And just like Derrick Smith, Comerford was promptly reelected.)

    Article IV, Section 6(d): “A member may be expelled only once for the same offense.”

    No double jeopardy. Fine.

    What, then, is an august body to do?

    Why, gin up a new offense, of course. Something with a precedent.

    Like — oh, I dunno — besmirching, perhaps?

    I’m outta here.

  15. - Stuff happens - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:26 pm:

    Maybe there are other important things the House could be looking at, instead.

  16. - unspun - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:29 pm:

    No. The “double jeopardy” clause was included in part because ouster of a member is not necessarily tied to a criminal act. For example, a member that commits a non-criminal act that leads to an ouster from the GA, but is subsequently re-elected sends the message that the voters disagree with the GA about the ouster. The voters are ultimately in charge, not the GA.

  17. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:32 pm:

    In short, you wanted him and your majority Mr. Madigan, own it.

    From a practical standpoinw, why expell him? He will go out and draw unemployment on the taxpayer dime. Madigan will replace him with another worthless bobblehead(not that a republican would be better in all fairness). I say let him stay.

  18. - Kerfuffle - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    He should be shunned and ignored until the outcome of the trial. If the rules allow, strip him of all committee assignments, turn off his microphone in the chamber so he is unable to speak, and move his office to the smallest broom closet in the building. In other words, no man is an island — except of course unless you are Derrick Smith in the IL House!

  19. - reformer - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:39 pm:

    The constitution is clear on this point. Is it too much to expect our legislators to follow it?

    As far as Sacia’s high dudgeon about besmirching the institution, I don’t recall him being outraged when half a dozen of his GOP House colleagues were busted for DUI since he’s been there. One also had his pharmacy licensed suspended. Or doesn’t he think those offenses bring disrepute to the House?

  20. - Ray del Camino - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    No. The feds will do it for him. Let’s aim our energies and our indignation at something productive.

  21. - Holdingontomywallet - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    Absolutely not. The voters made their voices known at the ballot box in the local and national elections. They should suffer the consequences - good or bad.

  22. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    I voted no. I doubt anyone outside of IL is paying attention. They should’ve waited until now to kick him out instead of doing it before he was re-elected. I don’t know why anyone thought he wouldn’t be.

  23. - Irish - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:50 pm:


    If the constitution states that they cannot kick him out again for the same offense then he should stay.

    This should not be an easy fix to get those who should have taken care that he did not reach the position he is currently in.

    He will most likely be shunned by most of the other members so he will not be able to advance any agenda for his district. So those who put him in office will suffer. Maybe they should have thought about that before blindly re-electing him.

    He will be an embarrassment to the leaders of the party who didn’t do more to be sure he did not have a chance, especially Jesse White who had to know of his previous record yet still pushed for him to hold public office. They should not get a pass on this and should be reminded every day they were complicate in the whole mess.

    The GA does not need to be sidetracked by a long drawn out attempt to deal with this one individual. There are more important pressing issues to be resolved instead of trying to get rid of him again.

    Bottomline, he is an embarrassment, a non functioning placeholder. Time to move on.

  24. - Anonymice - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    Under the same provision that allowed the house to expell Smith only once, they can imprison any person who is not a member for disrespect to the house by “contemptuous behavior in its presence.” They can only do it for 24 hours at a time, but that means they can have him hauled off every time he shows up to be sworn in. It will give them something to do between the start of the new session and the last week of May.

    Or they can just live with the fact that he won, and move on.

  25. - Ah HA - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 12:59 pm:

    I think they should find a way BUT…they removed him and he got reelected. As per the article, the rules of double jeopardy are in effect. So in my humble opinion, he needs to be convicted by his peers in criminal court before the House can evict him again.

  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:04 pm:

    The voters in his district had the chance to evaluate all of the charges, and re-elected him. So, they’re saying either they don’t pay attention to who they’re voting for, or that they want an indicted potential felon representing them. Either way they deserve who they voted for.

  27. - OneMan - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    Dude won his election and he has not been convicted of anything…

  28. - Newsclown - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:11 pm:

    No, this is just republicans looking for an issue to milk for the PR buzz. At this point, we should let the process work itself out, wait until he’s convicted, then throw him out. Meanwhile, he’s not going to get on any committees, he’s not going to get any bills passed, he’s going to sit there and consume oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and not much else, until he gets the hook from the feds.

  29. - siriusly - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:13 pm:

    I voted yes. The should try. Don’t know if they will succeed, but they should try. But they may wait because it’s a great distraction from the pension crisis.

  30. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    No, but what the constitution ought to say is that if you’re expelled for an ethics or criminal offense, you’re ineligible to run again for any elected office in the state, ever.

  31. - Crime Fighter - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:18 pm:

    Considering the that many in the GA have a history of selling their services to utility, health care, and other companies openly, the accusations against Smith aren’t that big of a deal. Besides they’ve already made their disingenuous point with the first expulsion. If the GA is genuinely concerned about misfeasance and malfeasance with grant funds, the they should do a better job of overseeing Quinn/Blago run state agencies.

  32. - shore - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:34 pm:


    Sorry but there was a campaign, the media did the reporting, the candidates did the campaigning, the voters did the voting. Move on.

  33. - Liberty First - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:47 pm:

    Since when do the Democrats follow the constitution in Illinois?

  34. - Professor - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:52 pm:

    The people of Smith’s district have spoken and the people, in our system, are sovereign. Untill he is found guilty the people’s will should remain. The people can elect ‘Attila the Hun’ and we have to acept that. Our system triumphs over our feelings.

  35. - Rudy - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    No. Lawmakers should follow the law. Lawmakers should treat Derrick Smith as they would want to be treated by their colleagues, if they had pleaded not guilty and had been re-elected. Lawmakers have more important issues to address.

  36. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    Smith won the seat from an electorate who clearly like him as he is. If it was so important that he lose, why didn’t the Dems put in the pressure to make it happen? He must be untouchable with the locals regardless of what anyone else thinks. Let the feds do what they have to. In the meantime let him be.

  37. - Endangered Moderate Species - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    Is Rep. Smith the reason Illinois is viewed by some to be a “national laughingstock? I don’t think so. The house members need to stay focused on the State’s financial health and quit spending energy on a problem the feds will soon take care of.

  38. - Hat Trick - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    No. It makes for good theater for the Republicans, but the guy won the primary and general fair and square. The feds will resolve the situation soon enough.

  39. - reformer - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    == Since when do the Democrats follow the constitution in Illinois? ==
    Jim Sacia was a Republican the last time I checked. He’s the one insisting there must be a way to circumvent the clear constitutional provision.

  40. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:14 pm:

    Can the majority afford to look like they didn’t at least explore the option even though they probably can’t do much about it?

  41. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    Jim and Elaine jumped the gun…now let things go thru the courts…

  42. - Soccer tease - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    I agree with burgundy-Roland Burris, JJJ. (Fed) and D Smith can do a lot of damage and are unnecessary distractions-bring on the constitutional amendment.

  43. - OpenlineBlog - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    If the criteria for kicking out a legislator is how they make Illinois a “laughingstock” then that would apply to Mike Madigan and LOTS of people.

    As much as hate corruption, Mr. Smith has not been convicted of anything and, unless someone is alleging he did anything unlawful regarding the election, he is legally the rep, even if everyone hates it.

    The bigger question is why voters in certain state rep districts vote for bad candidates, including Smith, the 22nd District (Madigan) and even in the burbs like the 84th (where Madigan spent almost a million bucks to take a seat).

  44. - jake - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    I voted no. As a general proposition it is a bad idea to change laws to fit one egregious outlier of a case and, as others have pointed out, the status of Mr. Smith is so far down the list of the problems facing the legislature that they they should take no more time dealing with it at this time.

  45. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:53 pm:

    The former Feebie should reflect upon the oath he swore when they handed him the shiny shield and big revolver.
    Let the man have his day in court, Special Agent.

  46. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    No, they screwed up and now have to live with it.

    However, it is time to call on Sec. of State White to resign. He was behind Smith. He could not push Smith out. White needs to go.

  47. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 2:56 pm:

    ===The bigger question is why voters in certain state rep districts vote for bad candidates… and even in the burbs like the 84th ===

    Kifowit won with 62 percent of the vote. She also won a tough primary. I hardly think she was a “bad candidate.”

  48. - Thinker~Doer~Socializer~Feeler - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 3:17 pm:

    Why would republicans like Sacia want to the democrats’ bidding here? If the Illinois republicans were smart they would leave Smith alone and use him and others against Jesse White in 2014. White deserves some knocking about in the next election, and hopefully he will lose.

  49. - sal-says - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    “…make Illinois a ‘national laughingstock’.”
    Although I voted ‘yes’, why bother?

    IL is a ‘national laughingstock’ for a variety of reasons and for a variety of politicians: Blago, Ryan; JJJr. etc. etc.

    IL is used to being a ‘national laughingstock’ and apparently we like it: we keep voting these critters in. And a number of them keep turning out to be crooks or goofs.

  50. - MrJM - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 3:33 pm:

    Do you think the General Assembly should try to find a way to remove Derrick Smith from office yet again?

    No. If he hasn’t even been banned from Capitol Fax, how bad can he be?

    – MrJM

  51. - Tommydanger - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 3:53 pm:

    The voters elected him knowing he was carrying enough baggage to fill a Pullman car. That’s the democratic deodorant to cover his sleazy stench. The leadership can still bury him in useless committees and make sure a bill never goes out with his name on it and then look to run someone against him in the two years.

  52. - Nitro - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 5:13 pm:

    No let justice take its course and focus on more pressing issues….

  53. - Leroy - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 5:27 pm:

    So this rule is part of the constitution that we choose to enforce? Nice!

    Always nice to know which parts of the constitution are the ones we chose to follow.

  54. - Esteban - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 6:23 pm:

    I’ve been around long enough to see numerous legislators indicted and not one of them was
    expelled as a result of the indictment.

  55. - Pale Rider - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 6:53 pm:

    They were informed that this scenario was possible. They knew if he was reelected that that they could not oust him again. The Chicago Machine is forever turning and they couldn’t turn it off. They pulled the trigger too soon and couldn’t finish the job. As unfortunate as it is they are stuck.

  56. - Will Caskey - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 9:16 pm:

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: he’s just a state legislator. The worst thing that is happening as a result of him being in office is I guess Jesse White being embarrassed.

    It’s kind of like when everyone was furious at Roland Burris for sticking with his appointment and then everyone realized that U.S. Senators have apparent purpose or utility, only no one even expects a state representative to do anything.

  57. - Steve Bartin - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 9:37 pm:

    This is a difficult situation. If you follow the constitution (and you are supposed to follow the constitution)he has to be seated. What can anyone do??? Not much. He was elected. Hopefully, Rich will ask a better question who’s more of an embarrassment Smith or the voters who put him there?

  58. - Bemused - Tuesday, Nov 13, 12 @ 10:57 pm:

    I thought this was a case of premature ejection to start with. We were only a short time away from an election. If he lost problem solved,if not then you drop the hammer on him and he’s out till the end of that term. Maybe by then the Feds have done their thing. Instead of thinking ahead they did a little grandstanding and now they are in a pickle.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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