Rep. Derrick Smith back to work in Springfield after bribery charges

April 17, 2012 2:49:52 PM PDT
Illinois Representative Derrick Smith joined his fellow lawmakers at the state capitol in Springfield Tuesday in his first public appearance since the Chicago politician was arrested on bribery charges.

Smith, who represents the 10th District, was indicted last week for allegedly accepting $7,000. The indicted lawmaker faces mounting pressure to resign his position because of the bribery charges.

Wearing a tan suit, Smith entered the House chamber shortly after roll call. Within minutes, members began approaching to shake Smith's hand and to greet a colleague they had not seen or spoken to since mid-March at the latest.

"I greeted him because he's here to represent the people who elected him, and I just told him God bless him," said Rep. LaShawn K. Ford, (D) Chicago. "He's got some challenging days ahead of him."

A receptionist told ABC7 Smith had not used his Stratton building office since late February, weeks before his March 13th arrest on federal bribery charges. Last week, West Side Chicago alderman and Democratic committeeman Jason Ervin demanded that Smith, who was appointed to the legislature last year, either show up for work or temporarily give up the appointment.

"I am going to make it very clear that Representative Smith is innocent until proven guilty," said Rep. Jack Franks, (D) McHenry.

But Rep. Franks wants limits placed on Smith's legislative duties.

"I've asked the speaker to suspend Rep. Smith from any committee work pending the outcome either of the federal indictment and trial, or whether he pleads or not pleads," said Franks.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Michael Madigan's office predicted incorrectly that Smith would not show up.

There were no votes during the brief session that recessed for committees. At one point, Smith left the floor to speak to some constituents in the rotunda. When ABC7's camera became part of the group, the lawmaker returned to the chamber without comment.

A cat-and-mouse game continued between reporters and Smith Tuesday afternoon but the representative was able to avoid making a comment.