Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House this week came another step closer to expelling indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith from the chamber, and Gov. Pat Quinn headed to southern Illinois to examine drought damage and dodge protesters.
Illinois Statehouse News compiled these stories for this week in review.
House committee recommends expulsion for Smith
A bipartisan committee of House lawmakers voted Thursday to recommend that Smith, the Chicago Democrat under federal indictment for bribery, be expelled from the state House.
Of the 12 representatives on the Select Committee on Discipline, 11 voted in favor of recommending expulsion with state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, voting against the recommendation. Riley told reporters that the voters, not Smith’s colleagues, should decide Smith’s political future in the Legislature.
“I felt especially with an election coming up, the people of the district would be better served to make a determination on whether Derrick Smith was the person who should represent them in Springfield,” Riley told the Chicago Sun-Times. “My view was that the penalty should be harsh but something less than expulsion.”
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has called lawmakers back to the Capitol on Aug. 17, at which time they may take up the matter. The full House must vote, and it takes a two-thirds majority to oust a member. The last time a representative was expelled was in 1905.
Smith did not appear at Thursday’s hearing. His attorney, Victor Henderson of Chicago, spoke on Smith’s behalf.
Henderson, who had urged lawmakers to delay their hearings until more information in the criminal investigation could be released, told Illinois Statehouse News the day before the hearing that he thought the outcome was preordained.
“Today it’s Derrick Smith. Who will it be tomorrow?” Henderson said. “I think everybody who is a citizen in the state of Illinois has a vested interest in seeing Democracy carried out in a way that is fair and transparent, and thus far that is not what I have seen.”
Federal prosecutors have accused Smith of accepting a $7,000 bribe in connection with his job as a lawmaker.
Smith virtually unelectable in November, observers say
Smith, in the Legislature just more than a year and now lacking the support of the Democratic machine, faces an uphill battle getting re-elected, political observers say.
Democrats backed Smith through the primary election — which was a week after Smith’s arrest was publicized — to regain control of the seat. They pulled their support, though, and now back Lance Tyson, a well-connected Chicago lawyer with ties to former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former Cook County Board of Commissioners President Todd Stroger.
The Democrats are running Tyson under the “Unity Party,” which they established after Smith decided to remain on the November ballot.
“Tyson is favored to win, even though the Democrats will have to do considerable work to make sure the voters in the district know the true Democratic candidate,” said Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman.
“My assumption is Smith isn’t going to campaign because he’ll be busy fighting his corruption charge. He hasn’t been much of a state legislator, so I don’t expect him to be much of a campaigner.”
Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said Smith really has no chance of being re-elected.
“He has no support from the ward organizations in the district and will not be able to raise any money from interest groups, who will not want to have their names on campaign disclosure documents as having given him money,” he said.
Quinn announces drought aid, dodges protesters about prison cuts
Quinn visited a Jefferson County farm Monday to examine drought damage to the corn crop there, but he did not stop to speak with a group of protesters upset about proposed prison and developmental center closures.
Quinn’s news conference took place in a remote field several miles from the Waltonville farmstead where officials said it would occur. Protesters, including workers and families affected by the closures, lined the highway at the entrance to the farmstead, hoping Quinn would take notice.
“I think it’s, frankly, kind of cowardly to play hide and go seek with your event just to avoid people who have something to say,” said Ed Caumiant, regional director for the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said rumors that the location for the news conference was changed to avoid protesters were incorrect.
“The farm today was selected, because the owner volunteered it to allow us to inspect the damage and make the relief announcement,” she said.
Quinn was in southern Illinois to announce a series of assistance programs that will be made available to farmers who have corn crops damaged by the extreme heat and lack of rain.
— Jayette Bolinski