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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Congressional Crooks Stay on the Public Payroll Even After Conviction

*CT campaign finance legislation passed - see end of post for details, links*

As Onell Soto reports in the San Diego Union-Tribune, resigned-in-criminal-disgrace former congressman Duke Cunningham will continue to collect his congressional pension despite his admission that he sold his office to the highest bidder.

What? Federal officials still get a pension for an office they sold to the highest bidder? Who wrote that law? (Oh, right.)

Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2 million in bribes, isn't the only one. Other congressional crooks are still on the public payroll as well. Former Ohio rep James Traficant, convicted of bribery, racketeering, and fraud? Still on the payroll. Illinois' Dan Rostenkowski, convicted of federal corruption charges? Still on the payroll.

In fact, a more than a dozen more crooked elected officials are living off the American taxpayer's dime, according to a study by the National Taxpayers' Union. Some of these guys are getting more than $100,000 a year from the very public they screwed over to line their own pockets.

This policy isn't just stupid - it's criminal.

For those who think that the American public shouldn't have to buy daiquiris and golfcarts for the corrupt officials who ripped them off, keep an eye on New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone. Pallone plans to introduce legislation in the next couple months which would put an end to the practice of the American people and their government giving pensions to dirty former politicians. Folks in Pallone's office say that the bill would also double penalties for fallen lawmakers, as well as ban lobbyists convicted of bribery from any future lobbying.

*CT UPDATE*
As the AP's Susan Haigh reports, both houses of the Connecticut Legislature have passed the campaign finance bill discussed in yesterday's blog without amendments. Governor Jodi Rell has promised to sign the bill.

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