Proposal Would End Pensions of Convicted Former Congressmen, But Not Blagojevich
June 14, 2011
By Abdon Pallasch
As jurors in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich deliberated for a second day Monday, a senator and a congressman appeared in a courtroom 11 floors beneath them to urge that former congressmen in Blagojevich’s situation lose their pensions.
Because Blagojevich lied to the FBI and allegedly committed his other felonies after he served his three terms in Congress, he gets to keep his $15,000-a-year congressional pension even if convicted on all counts.
U.S. taxpayers shell out $800,000 a year in pensions for convicted former congressmen, according to the National Taxpayers Union.
Four Illinois elected officials have introduced a bill that would strip pension benefits from congressmen or senators convicted of felonies even if it happens after they leave federal office.
“Governor Blagojevich has been convicted of public corruption crimes, yet he is still eligible to receive his taxpayer-funded congressional pension — this is unacceptable,” said Rep. Robert Dold (R-Winnetka), who appeared with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Monday.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) are co-sponsors of the bill.
They cannot stop Blagojevich’s pension. The bill would apply to future members of Congress.
Illinois has been something of a catalyst among the 50 states when it comes to congressional-corruption-pension issues. The current law killing pensions for congressmen convicted of felonies that happened while they served was a reaction to former Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski’s 1996 conviction.
That bill could not touch Rostenkowski’s pension, so he collected $96,000 a year from his 1997 release from prison until his death last year, which came a few days before Blagojevich’s first trial ended.
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