A House panel has found enough evidence of wrongdoing to recommend the punishment process move forward for State Rep. Derrick Smith.
The Chicago Democrat is accused of accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from a fictitious daycare center in exchange for a support letter for a state grant. The six member panel’s job was to determine if there was enough cause to recommend punishment, and State Rep. Elaine Nekritz says there is – even though Smith didn’t testify.
“There was at least an allegation that he took the money into his hand, and he did not deny those charges when given the opportunity,” Nekritz told reporters at a news conference in Chicago.
Smith used his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the constitution to refrain from testifying, as that amendment allows defendants to avoid self-incrimination. But lawmakers used Smith’s silence against him, as this process isn’t a criminal trial and such actions are allowed.
The next step is a new, 12 member House panel, which will either recommend punishment or exoneration. If it’s punishment, the decision will go to the full House floor for debate and it’ll take a two-thirds majority to expel Smith from the House.
“There’s the recommendation of censure, of reprimand or expulsion, or he could be exonerated,” explains State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, the first panel’s minority spokesman. “If it’s chosen he be punished in any form, it has to go to the House floor for, again, debate and a vote.”