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Derrick Smith, the Illinois state representative indicted early this month on a federal corruption charge has kept a low profile since both his arrest and subsequent victory in the March 20 Democratic primary election.
He has, in fact, been a no-show in Springfield since the allegations surfaced.
On Tuesday, a Special House Investigating Committee voted unanimously to ask federal officials for additional details concerning the allegations Smith faces, NBC Chicago reports. Smith did not appear at the committee's hearing.
"The precedent for what we're asking from the U.S. attorney comes from the Blagojevich case," Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), committee chairwoman, said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, "and it would be a list of witnesses, the confidential source, maybe the day-care center owner and maybe the people actually named in the criminal complaint and then any documentation set forth in the criminal complaint."
Smith has said nothing publicly and has not participated in House sessions since he arrested March 13 for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from a fictional daycare center in return for writing an official letter of support for its bid for a $50,000 state grant. According to the criminal complaint, the informant working with the FBI delivered an envelope filled with the cash to Smith, which he accepted.
Smith, a week later, resoundingly weathered a primary challenge from Tom Swiss, a former chairman of the Cook County Republican party. A coalition of Chicago Democrats had rallied behind Smith and urged for his re-election in the days leading up to the primary. But in the days since his win, Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Secretary of State Jesse White and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis are among the elected officials who have called for his resignation.
White, who largely orchestrated Smith's initial appointment to the state House, told the Associated Press that his backing of Smith was "a mistake" that he doesn't feel should reflect poorly on his scandal-free record in office come 2014, when voters will decide whether to re-elect him.
"I don't know if I want to talk to the gentleman. I would not be kind," White continued, noting that he had not spoken with Smith since the allegations surfaced. "He disappointed me and he disappointed the people. Unacceptable."
Should the House investigative panel decide to pursue further action against him, a disciplinary committee will take the matter from there and consider penalties such as a reprimand, censure or expulsion.
The committee is set to reconvene April 9 in Chicago.
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