It’s no secret that Illinois is plagued with corruption and today’s status hearing in federal court for indicted former House Speaker Mike Madigan is a fresh reminder of the fact. That’s why State Representative Amy Elik (R-Fosterburg) filed legislation to suspend a lawmaker’s pension if they are convicted or charged with corruption by federal investigators.
According to State Rep. Amy Elik, “Under current law, Madigan will collect a taxpayer-paid pension until a guilty verdict is reached. This means Madigan could go on to collect his elected official pension for several years before it’s taken away. Corrupt lawmakers should not receive a taxpayer-funded pension if they defrauded the taxpayers while serving themselves in state government. Suspending pension payments while awaiting the resolution of a case will send a strong message to corrupt politicians that if you break the law, the consequences will be costly.”
Since 2019, five lawmakers have been indicted for corruption while serving in the House or Senate. The anti-corruption bill (HB 5737) filed by Rep. Elik states that any benefit or annuity payments to a lawmaker shall be suspended if the politician is indicted or charged by information with a felony and the board of the retirement system or pension fund determines that the felony relates to or arises out of or in connection with his or her service as a member or participant of the retirement system or pension fund.
Current law requires the retirement system board to take action to remove a pension benefit paid to corrupt public officials upon a guilty verdict or plea. State Representative Amy Elik’s bill would remove a loophole that allows politicians to continue receiving their pension payments while awaiting the outcome of their case. This ensures that corrupt politicians won’t be incentivized to delay their case in order to collect the taxpayer-funded pension.
Rep. Elik added, “Former Illinois Governor’s Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan lost their taxpayer-funded pension following their corruption convictions, however, they received payments while awaiting their guilty verdict. My bill will take away the pension while awaiting the outcome of the case so that no perks are offered to a politician when they are found guilty in a court of law for corruption.”