9th District Reform Efforts Target Corrupt Politicians’ Pensions

Aug 21, 2014

Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove of the 9th District have reintroduced two legislative initiatives aimed at ensuring convicted corrupt politicians face enhanced monetary penalties for criminal actions.

The delegation’s first reform measure would make public officers or employees convicted of crimes affecting their office or found at fault in certain civil actions liable for the cost of prosecution and legal representation if received through the expense of public funds. Under the legislation, convicted persons would be subject to pension garnishment to satisfy the liability.

The second measure would allow a public employer to levy a judgment for restitution of illegally obtained funds against a convicted public employee’s retirement allowance. Provisions of the legislation would apply to any official’s or employee’s pension contribution to principal state-administered retirement systems.

“Corruption essentially amounts to a tax which is imposed upon all those who were victimized: the taxpayers,” Connors, Rumpf and Gove said in a joint statement. “The cost of the criminal actions for which these individuals were convicted is even more reprehensible when considering that our state struggles to fund public services, not to mention tax relief that residents rely upon.

“When holding public office, you are answerable to the people whose tax dollars fund the operations of government,” they added. “Therefore, it would be appropriate to garnish the public pension of convicted politicians as a means of recovering the cost of their prosecution and legal defense as well as funds illegally obtained through the use of their government position. To do so would mitigate the cost of corruption on taxpayers, whose interests should be put first as the victims of such crimes.

“Further, we believe the provisions of legislation would serve as a strong deterrent against government corruption. Corrupt politicians stand to lose far more for their crimes under the prospect of having their pension garnished to cover what may be substantial amounts of money.”

Each of the delegation’s measures awaits consideration by their respectively assigned committees. —J.K.-H.

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