State Rep. Derrick Smith: Facing trial but still raising cash - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

State Rep. Derrick Smith: Facing trial but still raising cash

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

So let's imagine you're a state lawmaker facing trial on federal corruption charges for shaking down a daycare center. What do you do? You hold a campaign fundraiser, of course!

That's exactly what indicted State Representative Derrick Smith did this week.

The West Side State Representative will go on trial in October on federal charges of taking a $7,000 bribe in an FBI sting operation. The feds say Smith took the money to steer a state grant to a fictitious day care center, but that hasn't stopped smith from raising political cash.

FOX 32 News was able to get an invitation to a cocktail party: "Please join friends of Derrick Smith for a fundraising reception in honor of Representative Smith."

Surely we'd be welcome, right? But when Investigative Reporter Dane Placko tried to attend the big party Tuesday night at the Estate Ultra Bar on Elston, he got a frosty reception.

Smith took one look at us and bolted to the back. A staffer said Smith was too busy to talk.

Later, we saw him peering at us out the window.

When we went outside to take some pictures, a restaurant security guard tried to chase us away.

"We have a private event going on right now. If they requested cameras--" the security guard said.

After explaining that our reporter and photographer were merely standing on the sidewalk, he responded: "I understand that but the owner doesn't want you over here."

It's clear Smith didn't want the news around, so Dane Placko attempted to talk to some of his supporters. Most had nothing to say, but one person spoke about Smith to our cameras.

"I've known the man a long time," the man said regarding Smith. "The man pulled himself up by his bootstraps. Went to DePaul. Got his degree. And old friend."

Responding to a question about whether he's disturbed by the allegations against Smith and the fundraiser he's holding, he said: "Well, he needs money. All politicians need money. That never changes."

While Smith is raising that money for his campaign fund, state election law also allows politicians to use that money to pay their legal bills, which may come in handy. If Smith is convicted on those corruption charges this fall, he'll automatically be removed from office.

You may remember he was expelled from the legislature last year after the indictments, but his name remained on the ballot and voters sent him back to Springfield.

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