Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

SPRINGFIELD, IL – When a new General Assembly takes the oath of office later in the day, its ranks will include three lawmakers facing criminal charges.

Former state Rep. Derrick Smith heads back to Springfield on Wednesday. The Democrat was arrested on bribery charges and expelled last year, but voters put him back in office.

Sen. Donne Trotter faces gun charges for allegedly bringing a weapon to an airport. And Rep. La Shawn Ford is accused of federal bank fraud charges.

Illinois has a reputation for an intersection of politics and crime. Still, historians say it's been decades since so many sitting lawmakers were facing charges.

The situation could be a distraction as Illinois faces historic financial problems. But some experts say the charges are so different it won't matter much at all.