After election, Smith says he’s a “new man” but still mum on bribe charge
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief firstname.lastname@example.org November 8, 2012 11:06AM
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:22AM
Indicted, expelled state Rep.-elect Derrick Smith declared himself “a new man” Thursday after reclaiming his old House seat but stood silent when asked if he accepted a $7,000 cash bribe, as federal prosecutors allege.
Smith’s lawyer also asserted that his client might be a smaller fish targeted by federal investigators and hinted that a larger target might be Secretary of State Jesse White, Smith’s onetime employer and political patron.
“That question has been asked a lot,” one of Smith’s lawyers, Victor Henderson, told reporters when asked if he had knowledge White is a possible target. “Time will tell.”
A White spokesman said Thursday morning he “resented” the implication and denied the secretary of state, who campaigned against Smith’s election, was in any investigator’s cross hairs.
“I’m not aware of anything pertaining to Secretary White,” White spokesman Dave Druker said. “Mr. Henderson should stick to his client, who has been charged.”
Smith defeated third-party rival Lance Tyson by a lopsided margin Tuesday despite being under federal indictment for bribery and having Gov. Pat Quinn, White and a slew of aldermen work against him in one of the most peculiar elections in the country, particularly considering Illinois’ inability to shed its image as a politically corrupt state.
“Individual members of the party tried to defeat me. Individuals like the governor, the secretary of state, campaigned against me. They gave over $100,000 to my opponent. They did everything they could to stop me from raising money. But that’s all over. That’s in the past,” Smith said as he slowly read a three-page, double-spaced statement to reporters.
“Today, I stand before you as a new man. I’m excited about representing the people of the 10th District,” he continued.
Smith was indicted last spring after allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant purportedly seeking Smith’s help in landing a state grant on behalf of a purported day-care center operator in his West Side district.
Henderson and Sam Adam Jr., Smith’s other defense lawyer, tightly policed questions to their client afterward, allowing reporters to ask only one question.
When the Chicago Sun-Times asked Smith directly whether he accepted the bribe, the one-term lawmaker expelled by the Illinois House in a historic August vote stood silent as his lawyer stepped forward to take the question.
“We’re not answering any questions about that,” Henderson said. “We’ve answered that before. He’s not answering under our advice. He’s following our advice. We’re his attorneys. The whole story will come out, and it will be quite a story.”