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GOP senator introduces bill to block lawmakers convicted of felonies from receiving pensions

GOP senator introduces bill to block lawmakers convicted of felonies from receiving pensions
© Greg Nash

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters MORE (R-N.C.) is introducing a bill on Thursday to prevent lawmakers convicted of felonies from receiving pensions.

The bill, entitled the "No Cash for Crooks Act," comes after the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year that former Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterIssa defeats Campa-Najjar in California House race DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program MORE (R-Calif.), who pleaded guilty to a felony, was still likely to receive congressional retirement benefits.

“Members of Congress who violate the public trust and commit felonies do not deserve to further cheat their constituents by receiving taxpayer-funded pensions,” Tillis said in a statement.

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“The fact that a disgraced Congressman was recently able to move back his resignation date so he could qualify for another year of eligibility for his pension shows how broken the system is," Tillis added.

Tillis's bill would apply to lawmakers who have either pled guilty to a felony they committed while in office, or are convicted of a felony while in office. It would change ethics rules so that conspiracy to misuse campaign funds would bar members from collecting congressional pensions.

Hunter, who resigned in January, and his wife and former campaign treasurer, Margaret Hunter, were indicted in August 2018 on charges of misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds. Duncan Hunter pled guilty in December to a misuse of campaign funds.

But the former lawmaker, according to the Times, is likely to receive $32,538 annually from his congressional pension, and can start to access the funds when he turns 62.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) concluded in a report made public in December that there was “substantial” evidence that Duncan Hunter illegally used campaign funds for personal use, including family vacations and airfare for his pet rabbit.

The OCE investigation found that he used campaign funds for personal travel, including a $9,213.58 family trip to Italy in November 2015; $7,066.33 for family trips to Hawaii; $2,891.75 for family trips to an Arizona resort and $1,083.63 for a family wedding in Boise, Idaho, in July 2015.