On June 14th Congressman Robert Dold (R-IL) introduced a new legislation, H.R. 2162, that would nullify the pension received by politicians convicted of a felony. This new legislation is known as the Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011. The bill is an amendment to United States Code Title 5 for the purpose of denying retirement benefits accrued by an individual as a public official if such individual is convicted of certain offenses.
In the House press release Senator Kirk (R-IL), author of the Senate version of the bill, was quoted saying, “American taxpayers should not be on the hook for the pension benefits of convicted felons. The proposed legislation will expand regulations to include the solicitation of political contributions, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, theft or bribery related to programs receiving federal funds, interfering with commerce using threats or violence, or promising political appointments. The expansion will help block pension benefits for Members who fail to honor their pledge to defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of the United States.” The Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011 will reinforce current laws and protect tax payers. In a note on Facebook Senator Kirk said, “According to the National Taxpayers Union, former Members of Congress who committed public corruption crimes are currently receiving more than $800,000 per year in taxpayer-funded pensions”.
When asked in an interview by Fox News about the fiscal note on the bill, Congressman Dold said that is wasn’t so much about the financial aspect rather the integrity of public officials. “It sends a clear message about integrity. Your integrity determines your identity… It sends a clear message that we are very serious about integrity and how you conduct yourself not only while you are in Congress but also what you do outside of Congress”. Although the bill will not stop current cases, like Former Governor Blagojevich, from receiving funding it will begin the path for a higher standard of ethics for our leaders. Later during the interview Dold re-emphasized the importance of our politicians’ integrity, “We as public officials need to make sure that we are living by and meet a higher standard”.
In a recent article by the Government Executive Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), co-author of the bill, said, “A member of Congress convicted of defrauding the public doesn’t deserve to retire on the public’s dime. This bill makes sure that corruption comes with a lifetime of consequences.” In the private sector, when you commit a felony at work you wouldn’t expect them to continue paying your pension. Why should the public sector be any different? The American tax-payers do not need to pay federal taxes in order to pay for this sort of behavior. This bill promotes accountability throughout the federal government and should be widely received across party lines. These common sense consequences need to be put into place throughout local, state, and federal government. Should any tax dollars be going towards the funding of convicted politicians’ pensions?