Former Members of Congress, Convicted Of Crimes, Collect Pensions

| Fri Dec. 1, 2006 12:55 PM EST

Former Congresssman Duke Cunningham is in prison, which is a good thing. What isn't such a good thing is that he is collecting a $64,000-a-year pension while he is there, and the amount of the pension will increase as the cost of living goes up. Former Congressman Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges, will get $29,000 a year after he turns 60, and former Congressman Mark Foley, even if he is convicted of a crime, will get $32,000 a year.

Last May, the House of Representatives finally passed a bill that would take pensions away from members who are convicted of bribery or corruption. However, the bill is stalled, and is unlikely to pass before the end of the current session. At any rate, it is not retroactive, so Cunningham and Ney (and possibly Foley) can relax and put their pensions in the bank.

Another problem is that the bill covers only bribery and corruption and not other crimes. Fifteen other disgraced former members of Congress, including convicted Dan Rotstenkowski, collect pensions. Rotstenkowski collects over $100,000 a year, and would have done so even if the House bill had already been made law at the time of his conviction.