Speaker still silent on rep charged with bribery

March 15, 2012 4:05:24 PM PDT
His campaign literature claims he's a corruption buster who helped bring down Rod Blagojevich but Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan remains silent on a member of his party charged with bribery.

"It's under review," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown responded when asked whether his boss, who is also the chairman of the state democratic party, would be pulling financial and foot soldier support for State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-West Side). Brown declined to say whether Madigan's "review" would be completed before or after Tuesday's primary.

Federal prosecutors charged Smith with bribery on Tuesday. They claim the state representative began scheming ways to turn his post into profit soon after democratic leaders appointed him to fill a vacancy one year ago. The criminal complaint alleges Smith accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for his support of a day care center he believed was seeking a $50,000 state grant. FBI agents recorded Smith with the help of a campaign worker turned government informant.

Madigan commands an army of campaign workers and controls a significant bank account which he uses to help friendly candidates at election time. Rep. Smith's primary opponent - a Republican turned Democrat named Tom Swiss - told ABC 7 Madigan has supplied Smith with $63,000 in campaign funds and several workers.

In a web posting titled "Mike Madigan: The Man Behind the Criminals" Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady said Madigan's silence on the Smith scandal is notable. "After all the scandal we have been through in Illinois, this should be a no-brainer for Madigan to call for the resignation of Derrick Smith," wrote Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady in a statement. "I guess this time it isn't politically convenient, so Madigan is sitting this one out ? further eroding the public trust and reputation of the state of Illinois."