Republican Senator Scott Brown, of Massachusetts, has joined Conn. Senator Richard Blumenthal in sponsoring a bill that would strip members of Congress of their federal pensions if they commit corruption, even if they have left the Capital.
The bill, called the Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act, is also sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. It would add 20 new corruption offenses that could be used to deny pensions, including bribery of public officials, making false claims to a government agency and offering expenditures to influence voting, the Associated Press reported.
An example of who the bill would target is former Republican Gov. John Rowland, who served in Congress from 1985 to 1991 as the representative of the state’s fifth district.
While it’s too late to take Rowland’s pension away, the bill’s sponsors hope to prevent any future Congressmen who are convicted of crimes from receiving federal pensions.
Rowland and Blumenthal were political foes in the 1990s while Rowland was governor and Blumenthal attorney general. However, they never faced off for the state’s top position.
Another example cited is former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The Democrat was convicted of corruption this year.
In a press release issued in late June when Blumenthal and Kirk introduced the bill, Blumenthal said, “Corrupt public officials convicted of federal felonies should not receive public pensions at taxpayers’ expense,” said Blumenthal. “This legislation, which builds on the law we passed in Connecticut, will close loopholes in existing federal law, and will help ensure that officials think twice before committing unlawful acts that betray their constituents and violate the public trust.”
Connecticut Post staff writer Anne M. Amato explored the issue of pensions for corrupt politicians in a June article that can be read here.
Correction: In an earlier version of this post, it said Rowland and Blagojevich could lose their federal pensions if the bill was passed. The bill would not apply to them, only to future cases similar to theirs.