WASHINGTON - United States Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced legislation aimed at eliminating the Congressional pensions of Members of Congress convicted of committing a felony while serving as elected officials. The Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011, S. 1261, expands upon existing law that allows former Members to keep their pensions if they commit public corruption crimes in another elected office.
"American taxpayers should not be on the hook for the pension benefits of convicted felons," said Senator Kirk. "Expanding current law to include additional public corruption felonies will block pension benefits for Members who fail to honor their pledge to defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of the United States."
“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.”
The Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011 would add twenty new public corruption offenses to existing U.S. law that cancels federal pensions for convicted lawmakers and would revoke the pensions of former Members of Congress who are convicted of committing the covered public corruption crimes while serving as any elected official.
Sens. Kirk and Blumenthal introduced the pension forfeiture bill to block pension benefits for elected officials who have broken the public's trust and to protect American taxpayers from yet another wasteful allocation of their hard earned tax dollars during times of fiscal hardship. 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. This figure would be much higher if it included convicted lawmakers not yet eligible to receive their pensions or whose cases are pending.