Smith contends political fund took in $19,007
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief July 17, 2012 2:44AM
Updated: July 17, 2012 8:11AM
SPRINGFIELD — Did House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political-action committee actually give state Rep. Derrick Smith more than $19,000 after he was indicted and House expulsion hearings began?
Smith (D-Chicago) reported that Madigan’s PAC, Democratic Majority, in fact did that last month, but a top Madigan aide Monday disputed the indicted West Side legislator’s assertion in newly filed campaign records.
“Why Derrick Smith does what Derrick Smith does, I have no idea,” Brown spokesman Steve Brown said.
In quarterly campaign-finance reports due Monday, Smith contended that his political fund, Friends of Derrick Smith, took in $19,007 during June from Democratic Majority to pay for things like postage, staff salaries, printing and get-out-the-vote telephone banking.
Smith’s campaign also filed five separate reports outlining each of the contributions valued at more than $1,000. State law requires those filings within five days of getting donations of that size and up.
What is perplexing about Smith’s filing, which covers fund-raising and expenditures between April 1 and June 30, is that most of the contributions Smith reported actually were declared as expenditures by Madigan’s PAC in an earlier Democratic Majority filing for the first quarter of the year.
That’s when Smith was in a hotly contested primary that he won against Republican-turned-Democrat Tom Swiss.
The discrepancy raises questions about whether Smith, who reported a total of $42,118 in the bank as of June 30, may have violated state election laws that would have required any primary-related contributions be reported by mid-April. Smith’s lawyer, Victor Henderson, did not return a message left at his office Monday.
Smith was indicted in April by a federal grand jury and charged with bribery for allegedly accepting $7,000 from an undercover mole on behalf of a purported daycare operator seeking support for a $50,000 state grant. On Thursday, a legislative panel likely will decide whether those allegations are serious enough to merit expulsion from the House.
“The guy’s clearly in a lot of trouble,” said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a government watchdog group that monitors campaign fund-raising and spending. “I doubt that campaign disclosure is the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up in the morning or even the second thing.
“The public has a right to know who’s giving to candidates,” Morrison said. “By sitting on it for three, four or five months, he’s completely circumvented that process and deserves all the fines he might get.”
In early June, the State Board of Elections recommended $15,304 in fines against Smith for not disclosing five contributions exceeding $1,000 on time before the March primary. Smith is appealing that order with the state election panel.
In 2010, when Smith ran unsuccessfully for the Cook County Board, he paid a $450 fine to the state for not disclosing three $1,000-plus contributions on time.