Illinois state lawmakers were sworn in Wednesday. Among them is a state representative who faces a trial later this year for allegedly taking a bribe.
Derrick Smith has had quite a journey to end up back where he started. The Chicago Democrat was arrested last year for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for office services.
After his arrest, Smith’s fellow House of Representatives kicked him out of office. And despite all that, he was elected to his old seat in November’s election.
Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin called it surreal that he took the same oath of office as the indicted Smith.
"He will have a very difficult time legislating and, quite frankly, I think that members of the legislature are going to be suspicious of him and some of them will be just downright offended that they’re serving with him," Durkin said.
Durkin said lawmakers can’t oust a sitting state representative twice for the same reason. He said he would not try to kick Smith out of office again unless the U.S. Attorney's office files a superceding indictment to Smith's pending charges.
"How he interacts with us will be important because, again, recognizing that he does have a constituency to represent, it'll be entirely up to him to proceed in a manner where he can continue to be a representative for his district," said State Rep. Will Davis, a Democrat.
Approached before the inauguration, Smith refused to answer questions about how he expects to work with lawmakers. He also wouldn't answer questions about his legislative priorities.
Two other state legislators sworn in Wednesday, State Sen. Donne Trotter and State Rep. LaShawn Ford, also face criminal charges. But those charges do not pertain to their official office duties.