State Representative Sid Mathias (R-Arlington Heights) has filed a House Joint Resolution that proposes an amendment the Illinois Constitution to allow a members of the General Assembly to be expelled from office more than once, if needed, for the same offense.
According to Mathias, HJRCA 52 was filed this week in response to former Representative Derrick Smith, who was expelled from the House in August, but who is now running for re-election to the House and leading in the polls. “The current wording of the Constitution states that a General Assembly member may only be expelled once for the same offense,” said Mathias. “We are facing the real possibility that an expelled member could be re-elected to his seat this November, at which point our hands would be tied and we would be unable to remove him from office.”
Smith is facing Federal bribery charges from a March 13 arrest where he was charged with accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for writing a letter of support for an entity seeking a State grant. If found guilty in Federal court, Smith would automatically be removed from office. Mathias expressed concern, however, that the federal trial process could take a long period of time. “It makes no sense to me that we impeached Governor Blagojevich with a provision that he could not serve again, but that we don’t have the same provision in place for other elected officials.
The resolution would put a question to voters on a ballot as to whether or not the Illinois Constitution should be amended. “Smith’s conduct prompted the House to remove him for abuses of office, and if he is re-elected, it does not wipe those abuses away,” Mathias said. “Corruption is an inexcusable offense, and those who engage in abuse or corruption should be allowed to serve.”