CHICAGO – An expelled Chicago-area legislator seeking a return to the statehouse spoke out Monday after weeks of silence following his indictment on federal bribery charges.
Derrick Smith told Chicago's WMAQ-TV that whether he wins his race is "in God's hands," but he believes he will win.
Smith was arrested days before the March primary in an FBI sting. He is accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping what he thought was a day care center to obtain a state grant. He pleaded not guilty.
He refused to resign and easily won his primary election. But his colleagues in the House voted 100-6 in August to relieve Smith of his duties.
Smith is running against Lance Tyson, chosen by Democrats as a third party candidate after Smith was indicted. If Smith wins the election, he would be able to hold office again because Illinois law allows a lawmaker to be expelled once.
Smith acknowledged that few public officials are supporting him, naming a Chicago alderman as one who is backing his candidacy.
"Mostly I have the constituents supporting me," he said. "They are the ones encouraging me to keep running."
Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this month announced he is backing Tyson, joining Secretary of State Jesse White, who was once a Smith supporter. Smith was first appointed to the House last year to fill a vacancy.
Since his indictment, Smith has kept a low profile, refusing to debate his opponent and turning aside interview requests from the news media. On Monday, a reporter for WMAQ-TV tracked him down in a parking lot of a West Side seafood restaurant.
Smith said as he campaigns, he hears a lot of comments about being innocent until proven guilty. He says if he's re-elected, his agenda would be bringing economic develop to his district.
When expelled, Smith expressed disappointment that his colleagues had not heard "the whole truth" about his case. He refused Monday to talk about the case against him.
Information from: WMAQ-TV.