Our friends at the Center for Public Integrity remind us that in about 30 years Aaron Schock (R) will once again take money from the U.S. taxpayer.
The Illinois congressman, who announced Tuesday he would resign after a deluge of news stories alleging his misuse of government funds, will most likely still be able to collect his pension when he turns 62. He’s currently only 33.
Using estimates from the National Taxpayers Union, CPI wrote that Schock, who was first elected in 2008, would later in life receive an annual government paycheck of around $18,500 because he’d served at least five years.
Still, if there’s a criminal investigation into Schock’s spending habits and he’s charged it could potentially strip Schock of his retirement annuity.
Since the early 1960s, acts of treason or espionage were the only crimes that caused a member of Congress to lose his pension. Then in 2007, an ethics reform law added serious felonies like bribery or perjury as ways lawmakers could forfeit their government checks, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report. And in 2012 other federal criminal violations were added “relating generally to public corruption, election law violations, and misconduct in office.”
Those laws are not retroactive, however, so convicted former lawmakers, like former Republican congressmen Randy “Duke” Cunningham (Calif.), collect a healthy taxpayer-funded check.
Whether Schock’s alleged abuse of campaign and government dollars meets the threshold, he certainly wouldn’t rise to pre-2007 standards.
“Treason convictions don’t appear to be in Schock’s future,” Dave Levinthal, political editor at CPI, told the Loop. “unless taking decorating cues from 1920s England is considered betrayal of one’s home nation.”
Loop fans will recall that the beginning of Schock’s undoing came in early February when our colleague Ben Terris reported the congressman had decorated his D.C. office to replicate the inside of Downton Abbey, prompting reporters to begin scrutinizing his spending.
Oh, and if you were wondering: No, the show’s U.S. publicist won’t comment on Schock’s decision to step down. We asked.
This article originally appeared in The Washington Post.
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