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Smith can still run in November

Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012

* I told subscribers about this earlier in the week

Even if indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith is expelled from the Illinois House, nothing stops voters from putting the Chicago Democrat back in the Legislature in the November general election.

“There’s nothing in the election code prohibiting someone expelled from seeking re-election,” said Steve Sandvoss, general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections. […]

But the Illinois Constitution, which outlines how a legislator can be expelled, is silent on expulsion concerning re-election eligibility, said Kent Redfield, political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“All the Legislature can do is affect his current status,” Redfield said.

However, Redfield noted that if Smith is expelled, but not convicted by the federal government on the bribery charge before the election, the House could vote to not seat Smith after a general election win. Like an expulsion, two-thirds of the House must vote to prevent Smith from being sworn into the General Assembly.

If Smith is found guilty of the felony in federal court, he is ineligible to serve in the Legislature until after completing his punishment.

* Meanwhile, the Legislative Research Unit has found three other cases of House members facing punishment by their own chamber

- Rep. Frank Comerford, D-Chicago, wasn’t accused of corrupt activities. What got him in hot water was claiming that other lawmakers were corrupt.

After alleging “wholesale corruption” at the Statehouse in 1905, Comerford couldn’t back his claims and was expelled from the House because he “besmirched the good name and reputation of this General Assembly.” He was then elected to fill the vacancy created by his expulsion and returned to the House less than two months after leaving.

- In 1935, Republican Reps. Richard J. Lyons and Lottie Holman O’Neill, from Lake County and DuPage County, filed a resolution criticizing President Franklin Roosevelt and Gov. Henry Horner, both Democrats. The next day, a fellow legislator introduced a resolution saying Lyons and O’Neill were unworthy of membership in the House. Lyons publicly apologized, the critical resolution was erased from the records and no further action was taken on the resolution saying the two weren’t fit for the House.

- House Majority Leader Gerald Shea, a Cook County Democrat, was accused in 1976 of violating ethics laws by serving as an attorney for the Illinois State Medical Society and simultaneously introducing malpractice legislation that could affect the society. Shea was exonerated 153-7.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - kerfuffle - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    …he “besmirched the good name and reputation of this General Assembly”…

    Exactly how is that possible? As a body they have never had a good name or reputation.

  2. - Esquire - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    I think that Rich is absolutely correct. Moreover, from a practical standpoint, what does Derrick Smith gain from resigning? I doubt he has dozens of good job prospects to choose from if he resigns from office. I also suspect that with mounting legal bills that he is unusually dependent upon his legislative salary.

    In terms of futile gestures, are there any Republican committeeman in the district who can file a candidate for the possible vacancy in nomination for state rep? It might be a long shot, but if Smith stays put perhaps something peculiar could happen, provided a candidate is willing to serve one and be done. It is a 1,000 to 1 shot.

  3. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:22 pm:

    I’m glad this is the outcome the party wanted.

  4. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:25 pm:

    ===Shea was exonerated 153-7.===

    I’m not sure exonerated is the right word. Shea certainly prevailed in a lopsided vote, but that isn’t the same as being exonerated.

  5. - Elo Kiddies - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:32 pm:

    The 5th District Dems would also have the option of following Sen. Meeks’ example by running an Independent candidate who would later caucus with the Dems if they win.

  6. - kerfuffle - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    Gerry Shea was an interesing character who knew how to get things done in Springfield both as a legislator and a lobbyist.

  7. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    Given the way Illinois politics has gone the last 10 years, I think its inevitable that Smith gets expelled, and is re-elected.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    I believe that a Republican could (as Esquire suggests) be caucused in to run against Smith. But s/he now needs 1,500 good petition sigs to go along with the party paperwork. (Good luck with that!)

    Speaking of trips down Longshot Lane — yesterday was the first day for new parties and independents to circulate nominating petitions. Ninety days. Go get ‘em, goo-goos!

    (Along that line — perhaps some Dem-as-indie can be found to run against Smith?)

  9. - reformer - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:04 pm:

    If the GOP puts up a candidate, that would simply lead the voters of the district to vote for Smith again, just as they did on March 20th. They’ve already proven they prefer an indicted Democrat to an ersatz Democrat.

  10. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:13 pm:

    @reformer -

    Given the federal plea-bargaining rules, I don’t expect Smith to step aside.

    And I don’t expect any GOP candidates, but I do expect at least three “independent” candidates:

    1) A Madigan/White Democratic candidate;

    2) An candidate backed by Annazette Collins (she’s got some residency problems from what I’ve heard and probably could not run herself);

    3) A GOP-backed candidate

    Madigan will have to expend tremendous capital not to defeat Smith, but to fend off the other “independent” candidates. And there could be many more.

  11. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    Of the people advocating a vote for Smith to prevent Swiss, some of them had to know this, right? We aren’t governed entirely by clueless fools, are we?

    Before the election, I said people should vote for Swiss because it made sense to force the Democrats to organize a minor party or write-in campaign. It would force the Dems to find a good candidate.

    But perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the Dems will have to organize around an even better candidate to defeat Smith and the Republican.

    Way to go Team Democrat!

  12. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:04 pm:

    47th ward, he was exonerated well enough to get appointed to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees by a governor of another party.

  13. - Anon III - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:05 pm:

    YDD, you expect Smith to run in the D column, and you expect a Madigan/white candidate to run as an independent. Can you expand on how campaign funding will flow to the M/W candidate?

  14. - soccermom - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 4:30 pm:

    YDD — Do you think Collins or the GOP have the organization to get 1,500 valid sigs?

  15. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 5:02 pm:

    GOP, and Dem, state rep. candidates only need 500 valid sigs. Being an election after redistricting, independent and new party candidates need 1,500 valid, instead of 5% of the last vote. For State Senate Rs and Ds need 1,000, independents and new parties need 3,000. For US House its 600 for Rs and Ds, 5,000 for everyone else.

  16. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Mar 28, 12 @ 6:14 pm:

    Smith will hands down win the election in November. He would’nt be convicted till sometime in late 13 or early 14. If the voters want him so be it. The House can always censure him.Looks to me like its time for Jesse White to hang it up.

  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 29, 12 @ 8:51 am:

    @Mokenavince -

    Soliciting a bribe violates the law.

    Ignoring calls from your political godfather to step aside violates The Code.

    The feds will deal with #1, and the Democratic Party will deal with #2.

    Smith will have no money, no volunteers, no organizational support. A presidential election year makes things tougher because of the huge turnout, but this will be a battle between the independent candidates.

    There are some scenerios where a GOP backed candidate wins. They are pretty slim.

    But the only scenerio where Smith wins is if there are so many independent candidates that they divide the vote down to less than 10%ish.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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