The Associated Press reports that the “Public Trust and Accountability Act” would add a list of white collar crimes including bribery, solicitation of gifts, perjury, making false claims and lying to a grand jury to the offenses that would result in loss of federal pension benefits. Under current federal law, only a conviction for a crime against the United States, such as treason or espionage, can cause a member of Congress or other federal employee to lose his or her government pension, the AP notes.
Similar legislation has been introduced that would apply only to members of Congress. Various members of Congress, mostly Republicans, are under scrutiny for possible ethics violations, and lawmakers said there was a critical mass in support of denying pensions to white-collar criminals.
Cunningham admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and others in exchange for government contracts. His pension is calculated to be around $40,000 per year, the AP reports. He resigned last month and faces 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced in February.