With one former governor already in prison and another heading there this week, Illinois politicians have been warned to stop their corrupt ways. The warnings have apparently been lost on state Rep. Derrick Smith, however, who was arrested Tuesday after allegedly being caught accepting a bribe.
Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) allegedly accepted a $7,000 cash bribe to write an official letter of support for a daycare center that he believed was seeking a state grant, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The arrest came following an undercover investigation, during which a person who reportedly works on Smith's political campaigns cooperated with the FBI.
According to prosecutors, Smith initially said he would help the woman who owned the fictional daycare center receive a grant in exchange for a $5,000 contribution. He later raised his price to $7,000, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the criminal complaint, [PDF] the informant working with the FBI brought Smith an envelope filled with $7,000 in cash, which he accepted in exchange for the letter.
Smith, who replaced Annazette Collins when she took over Sen. Rickey Hendon's position, is appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon. He reportedly waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was released after posting a $4,500 signature bond, NBC Chicago reports.
The arrest comes just one week before election day in Illinois, when Smith will face Tom Swiss -- a Republican politician running "as a sort of stealth Democrat in the race," the Capitol Fax blog reports.
Swiss, who has billboards all over the city declaring himself a Democrat despite previously working for the Cook County Republican Party, told the Tribune that Smith's arrest may not help his chances on March 20.
“There’s a lot of political forces in Illinois that will say anything and do anything to maintain power,” Swiss told the paper.
According to his official biography, Smith is married with three sons and six grandchildren.
Just two weeks ago, Cook County Commissioner William Beavers was indicted on allegations of tax fraud.
Smith faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Other Illinois politicians who have been arrested for corruption: