State Rep. Derrick Smith could become the first lawmaker in more than a century to be expelled from the Illinois General Assembly.
A committee on Wednesday ruled there was sufficient evidence for the House to punish Smith (D-Chicago), who was indicted in April for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe from undercover officers. He's pleaded not guilty.
The committee said it agreed that the disciplinary process should continue and a panel should be formed to consider sanctions against Smith. It would then take a two-thirds vote of the entire House to approve a reprimand.
"We don't relish the opportunity to pass judgment or to investigate somebody that you've served with," said Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst). "But the fact of the matter is that we were sent here to represent our 108,000 constituents, to do it in an ethical fashion so that whatever we're doing in Springfield they can trust that we're doing the right thing."
The committee has four options for punishment: Smith could be exonerated, expelled, reprimanded or censured. The new jury-like committee must meet within 30 days.
Smith told the committee last month he would not testify and would not step down from his elected post.
"I will continue to represent the interests of people in the district," Smith read from a prepared statement. "They elected me despite the fact that the government [charged] me just a week before the primaries. As the people in the district did not abandon me, I will not abandon them."
Smith's attorney said his client has no plans to step down and will fight this move to unseat him.