Lawmakers shy away from calling for Rep. Ford to resign

November 30, 2012

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Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are holding off on calling for the resignation of indicted State Rep. LaShawn Ford.

Federal prosecutors indicted Ford for bank fraud Thursday, accusing the Chicago Democrat of lying about how he would use a line of credit.

In their indictment, federal prosecutors said the 40-year-old politician took a $500,000 line of credit with the now-failed ShoreBank to purchase and rehab some properties, but instead used the money to pay off expenses from his 2006 campaign.

Ford allegedly used the money for payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind., credit cards, car loans and mortgages he held at the bank. Prosecutors also allege Ford falsely inflated his personal income in obtaining the line of credit.

Ford is the second state representative to face federal charges this year. 

Derrick Smith, who maintains his innocence, was arrested earlier for allegedly taking a bribe and kicked out of the House.

"I see them as two very, very different issues," said Republican State Rep. Jim Sacia, who helped lead the charge to oust Smith because the alleged bribe had to do with his official duties as a representative.

But Sacia said Ford’s accusations do not involve his official office responsibilities, so he’s not calling for his resignation.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross made the same distinction between the separate charges facing Ford and Smith.

"It’s just too early at this point to make a recommendation on House action based on information in the indictment and public statements from the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Cross said in a statement.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn also wouldn’t say whether Ford should resign.

"That’s up to him," Quinn said. "He has to follow his conscience."

Ford said Thursday evening that he’s innocent.

In a statement sent to constituents, Ford said he’s introducing a resolution asking his colleagues to remain neutral and allow him to continue representing Chicago’s West Side in Springfield.