We thought Derrick Smith’s re-election, while hilariously stereotypical in light of Chicago’s political history, was an outlier, a quandary, and a comical confluence of voter ignorance and party line voting. Sure, a guy facing 10 years in prison, recently expelled from office, won re-election. But that was a fluke, right?
Not exactly. Consider two other Chicago-area politicians who were also re-elected: Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Cook County judge Cynthia Brim. The former has been absent from work while dealing with mental health issues (and an ongoing corruption investigation) while the latter is planning on pressing the insanity defense in a battery case stemming from a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies.
Just another election in the Chicago Circus, right?
Many people, and apparently many voters, have given Congressman Jessie Jackson, Jr. the benefit of the doubt due to his ongoing mental health issues. Jackson has been absent from office for months while dealing with bipolar disorder. His medical condition is not his fault. Anyone suffering from a medical condition should not lose his job, as long as he can later return to work.
Alas, Jackson’s also facing a Justice Department investigation into misappropriation of campaign funds, reports ABC 7 Chicago. Apparently, some of the money may have gone into renovating his family’s Washington D.C. home, flying his mistress to Chicago, and buying a $40,000 Rolex for a female friend. Now, he’s talking about a plea bargain with the feds. Should he agree to a felony deal for less time, he’ll be forced out of office. If it’s a misdemeanor plea, he gets to stay.
And then there is Judge Brim. She also apparently suffers from bipolar disorder and went off of her medications. She was off of her medications when she allegedly shoved one deputy and threw her keys at another at the Daley Center. The day before, she went on an extended tirade at the Markham courthouse, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to the ABA Journal, she was declared insane at the time of the incident by a court psychologist, but fit for work as long as she stays on her medication.
So, in total, Chicago has three people re-elected despite pending criminal charges, two of whom have severe mental health issues that will hopefully soon be under control. Good times.
- Speak to a Chicago Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Bad reviews, shaky mental health not expected to keep judge off bench (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Rival: Rep. Jackson ‘cheated’ voters by not revealing plea deal talks (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Appeals Court: You Weren’t Bribed Enough to be Convicted (FindLaw’s Chicago Criminal Law Blog)