Federal Charge Doesn’t Thwart Illinois Lawmaker’s Reelection Bid
By Jim Malewitz, Staff Writer
Derrick Smith’s return to the Illinois General Assembly isn’t much of a welcome back party. With the dust barely settled on his easy win on Election Day, a top Republican lawmaker is already calling for the Chicago Democrat’s ouster — again.
Smith was kicked out of the Assembly in August — the first member’s removal in more than a century — after allegedly pocketing a $7,000 bribe in a federal sting operation. He was arrested just days before his primary in March.
Smith’s party asked him to drop out of the race, but he refused and netted more than 60 percent of the vote against an Independent picked by the Democrats.
Calling Smith a “laughingstock” for allegedly accepting the money to support a fictitious daycare center’s grant application, Republican Representative Jim Sacia is pressing for a second ouster, the Chicago Tribune reports.
There’s just one problem: State law forbids it. The Illinois Constitution prohibits either legislative chamber from removing a lawmaker twice for the same offense.
Sacia told the paper “there has to be a way,” to remove Smith, who insisted at a news conference he is a “new man.” Sacia said he’d seek a solution with members of both parties.
If Smith is convicted, the brainstorming session would be moot, because Smith would be booted anyway.
Meanwhile, Brian Banks, a Detroit Democrat with eight felony convictions, won a Michigan House seat with 68 percent of the vote, CBS Detroit reported.
Between 1998 and 2004, Banks was convicted eight times of credit card fraud and issuing bad checks. He insists he is a changed man, earning a master’s and working toward law degree. Less than two weeks ago, however, a $3,751 judgment was issued against Banks for bouncing two rent checks, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Michiganders convicted of a felony within the past two decades are barred from running for office under a voter-approved 2010 amendment if the felony is related to a lawmaker’s duties in office. Since this was Banks’ first crack at public service, he was allowed to run, CBS Detroit notes.