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Indicted Expelled Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith Re-elected

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Nov 7, 2012 8:40PM

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Congratulations, Illinois. You've elected another winner.

Former state Rep. Derrick Smith was kicked out of the state house this summer after he was indicted for taking a bribe from an FBI informant. Now that Smith has been reelected, it doesn't matter than the General Assembly voted 100-6 to kick him out of the chamber in August because he cannot be expelled more than once for the same reason.

Yes, Smith is back, and he's there to stay. Smith won with a convincing 63 percent of the vote. Is it because Smith is such a wildly popular politician that he was reelected despite the scandal? No. The Sun-Times writes:

Only 12 people attended Smith’s victory celebration at a West Side church hall. A large spread of ribs and pasta went mostly uneaten.

Smith was arrested just one week before the primaries in March when he accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for writing a letter recommending a daycare center for a state grant. It was part of an undercover FBI operation with cooperation of an informant from Smith's campaign. Since Smith's sole opponent in the primary was a Republican who'd registered as a Democrat, top Illinois Democrats urged voters to back Smith. Smith won the primary with 77 percent of the vote.

Then Democratic leaders called for Smith to resign, and the legislator refused. The Illinois House opened an investigation of Smith shortly after. Smith neither resigned nor went to work, and he refused to answer any of the House panel's questions

Since Democrats could not replace Smith on the ballot without his resignation, they created the 10th District Unity Party — it's just like the West Side Democratic Party organization, except Smith isn't invited. The new party chose attorney Lance Tyson, former chief of staff for Cook County President Todd Stroger, to run against Smith. Tyson had the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White and every other Democrat in the state. He billed himself as the true Democrat, but of course on the ballot Tyson was just the 10th District Unity Party candidate.

It was June before Smith held any events for his constituents. He and his camp did not see the irony in making that first event a clinic offering legal advice. Illinois State House Speaker Michael Madigan called for a special session of the General Assembly, not to handle the pension crisis, but to vote on whether or not to remove Smith from office. The house voted 100-6 to remove Smith from office.

It seems like a homerun for Tyson, right? Nope. According to Progress Illinois, there was little enthusiasm for Tyson among the voters. The Democrats failed to gain momentum for him. When Election Day came around, voters opted for the guy with the "D" next to his name instead of the unknown "Unity Party."

Smith won the election with 63 percent of the vote. He'll return to Springfield, although he might not have the best attendance record once authorities start moving forward with their case against him. In the meantime, the House will have to wait for him to do something else wrong before they can try to expel him again. Keep your eyes peeled, legislators, he might need another bribe to pay for that uneaten spread of ribs and pasta.