Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ethics Poster Child: Representative Derrick Smith

The latest ethics poster child of the Illinois Democratic Party is former State Representative Derrick Smith, a Chicagoan who was removed from the Illinois House of Representatives by a 100-6 vote earlier this year. Mr. Smith became only the second representative to be removed from his seat by the Illinois House, the first being a whistle blowing reformer of sorts from the early last century.

Smith was removed following his indictment on Federal charges of corruption, primarily for allegedly writing a letter of recommendation for what turned to be a fake corporation, and allegedly receiving a rather nice stipend for his efforts that appeared to be something other than a campaign donation. Problem for Smith was that he was caught on tape during the alleged transaction. Alas, six House Democrats voted not to remove Smith in that historic vote.

Smith was elected to office with strong party support including that of Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan, following a primary battle against a challenger who claimed he was a former Republican and who had actually worked as the executive director of the Cook County Republican Party. The entire Democratic machine apparatus rose up to assure the election of Smith with extensive money and volunteer assistance, even as news stories circulated over his legal difficulties. The last thing Democrats wanted at that time was someone who was a former or maybe not so former Republican sitting in their caucus in the Illinois House. They supported the alleged crooked politician over the alleged Republican.

Parallels can be made between the Smith saga and Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, under a cloud with Federal subpoenas flying left and right, won reelection behind a Democratic Party that strongly united behind him. Remember his famous "What was she thinking?" campaign against Judy Barr Topinka? Likewise, Smith received the same treatment in his district. All out support. Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House, co-chaired the Blagojevich reelection effort, and this time he threw his considerable weight behind Smith during his last election. Both had legal difficulties. Both were Democrats under serious clouds, and favored by Michael Madigan over Republican challengers.

Now that Smith has been removed from office and is awaiting trial, he has been busy seeking election as the Democratic Representative to Springfield from his District. Yes, the same Chicago District he was booted out of by the Illinois House.

Smith's opposition is Lance Tyson, a Democrat running as an Independent, or a former Democrat running as a .  .  .  oh, never mind, I have a hard enough time trying to sort out who is really a Democrat and who isn't, and who is a Republican and who isn't in the City of Chicago. Tyson's is a former chief of staff to former County Board President Todd Stroger. Yes, that Todd Stroger!

If Smith wins this election, the Illinois House will be unable to unseat him using the same procedure from this year. If Smith loses his Federal corruption case, then his seat can be filled by appointment by Democrats until the next election, or a special election, depending how quickly the wheels of justice grind away. Confusing?

You would think local Chicago Democrats would rise up and make sure Smith loses this race. Nope! Smith either is being quietly supported by the Democratic Party of Illinois, or they are remaining neutral over Todd Stroger's former chief of staff. Any outrage from Governor Quinn over this situation? From Speaker Madigan? Nope!

Does anyone feel sorry for those folks being represented by all that nonsense in that House District in Chicago?  I do. The Democrats have failed them in that district. The Republicans are a non-entity there and an embarrassment.

Now I will admit that the Republican party has a few ethics poster children of their own. But the Derrick Smith story will soon top Rod Blagojevich's in terms of sheer audaciousness.

Those elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in the 10th District of Illinois, including Lake County, will cast their first votes after taking their oaths of offices, for the next Illinois Speaker of the House, a position currently held by Michael Madigan.

They are (incumbents in bold):
  • (51st) No Candidate (D) v. Ed Sullivan, Jr. (R)
  • (52nd) No Candidate (D) v. David McSweeney (R) vs. Dee Beaubien (I)
  • (57th) Elaine Nekritz (D) v. Jonathan L. Greenberg (R)
  • (58th) Scott Drury (D) v. Mark L. Shaw (R)
  • (59th) Carol Sente (D) v. Sidney H. Mathias (R)
  • (60th) Rita Mayfield (D) v. Jackie Burleson (R)
  • (61st) Ed Erwin (D) v. JoAnn D. Osmond (R)
  • (62nd) Sam Yingling (D) v. Sandy Cole (R)
  • (64th) No Candidate (D) v. Barbara Wheeler (R)
(Dee Beaubien is receiving strong financial and staffing assistance from Michael Madigan and the Springfield Democrats, but is running as an Independent. Chicago-style political party identity confusion drifting up into Lake County? What Ms. Beaubien does if elected remains to be seen.)

How many of the Democrats listed above will vote for Michael Madigan to continue as Speaker of the House? He has with the exception of two years, held that position for nearly 40 years. So far, no Democrats listed above have pledged not to vote for Madigan. Republicans have pledged not to vote for him, but then again, that is expected.

Maybe with former/soon to be elected Representative Smith sitting with them, Illinois House Democrats will be reminded that change is desperately needed. And will vote to change the Speaker of the House.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that kind of vote. That type of Hope and Change doesn't happen in Illinois.

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