Despite the fact that both have been convicted and are either in or awaiting prison on corruption charges, two former Democratic representatives are collecting taxpayer-funded federal pensions.
Thanks to an odd legal loophole, both Corrine Brown, D-Fl., and Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., continue to get fat taxpayer-funded checks even though the law is supposed to prevent felons convicted of abusing their positions for personal gain from doing so, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Brown, who was sentenced to five years last year for tax evasion and wire fraud and is required to report to prison by January 29, is still receiving Federal Employees’ Retirement System annuity benefits, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management confirmed to the Beacon.
According to National Taxpayers Union director of research Demian Brady, a loophole in current law allows Brown and others to collect the money scot-free, at least for now.
The Beacon reports:
Brady told the Free Beacon that based on Brown’s time in office, she is eligible for an annual annuity of up to $66,000 due to a loophole in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. “The language of that law cuts off a federal annuity for former Members of Congress upon being ‘finally convicted’ for corruption.”
“The loophole in the current law allows a politician sentenced to prison to continue to collect the pensions until a ‘final conviction’ is given when all appeals are exhausted,” said Brady. “For as long as a Brown is able to file appeals, even from a jail cell, she will not be considered ‘finally convicted’ and will remain eligible for her generous pension.”
Since Brown is still appealing her conviction and could be for years, she is allowed to keep drawing the money.
“The appeals process can go on for years, as we can see from the case of Representative Chaka Fattah, who is still collecting a pension worth up to $55,000 a year, even though he has been in jail for over a year now,” Brady told the Beacon.
Fattah, convicted and currently imprisoned for 10 years on 29 corruption counts for misappropriating campaign finance money to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, currently enjoys a similar setup and is able to continue to collect his federal pension, thanks to the legal loophole.
Thankfully, Republicans led by New York Rep. Claudia Tenney are working to close the loophole with a common sense approach.
“The No Pensions for Corrupt Politicians Act, introduced by Representative Claudia Tenney, would restore the intent of the ethics laws that Congress previously enacted,” Brady said. “Convicted members would lose their pension upon sentencing, and any foregone amount would be paid in full if an appeal proves successful and the conviction is overturned. This reform would help protect taxpayers from subsidizing the retirement of Members who are guilty of serious criminal conduct in public office.”
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