House Passes Bill Denying Pensions to Corrupt Officials

January 23, 2007 ( - The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 476 that would strip Congressional pensions from lawmakers convicted of crimes such as bribery, fraud and perjury.

The Associated Press reports the bill would extend existing law, which provides for pensions to be taken away if a lawmaker commits crimes such as treason or espionage, to include other federal felonies related to the performance of official duties. Those crimes include bribery of public officials, wrongfully acting as foreign agents, violating restrictions on members becoming lobbyists, conspiracy to commit such crimes, and perjury or persuading others to commit perjury.

The legislation allows lawmakers convicted of such crimes to recoup personal contributions made to 401(k)-type plans and gives the director of the Office of Personnel Management authority, depending on circumstances, to provide benefits to the spouse and children of a convicted lawmaker, according to the AP.

Just like a similar Senate bill passed last week (See Kerry, Salazar “Duke” It Out with Corruption-Tinged Pensions ), the House bill is not retroactive and would exempt lawmakers who have already been convicted of the crimes included in the bill. Those who would be exempt include former Representative Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who received last week a 30-month prison term for taking political favors and who backed similar legislation last year that never passed.

Also exempt would be former Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-California), who last year was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after pleading guilty to receiving $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and for whom the Senate bill was named.