Just because Alpine Republican Duncan Hunter had to give up his congressional seat after pleading guilty to conspiring to use campaign funds for his personal enjoyment doesn’t mean taxpayers won’t continue helping to fund the convict’s lifestyle in his golden years.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, based on formulas outlined by Congressional Research Service, Hunter can look forward to collecting at least $32,538 a year when he turns 62. Of course, the former congressman and Marine still has 19 years to go before he can start living it up as a pensioner, but watchdog groups are still outraged by an array of legal loopholes that have always allowed House members to keep getting paid.
“Corrupt members of Congress deserve time in prison, not taxpayer-funded federal pensions,” says Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of the transparency project OpenTheBooks.com. “However, the rules are so lax, no member has ever been stripped of their congressional pension.”
Even in prison, former Florida representative Corrine Brown is collecting a pension after being convicted in 2017 on 18 corruption charges including mail fraud and filing a false federal tax return. Fellow jailbird Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania is also collecting while serving time for a 2016 conviction on 23 counts of racketeering, fraud, and other corruption charges.
Legal experts say Hunter isn’t likely to buck the trend because his particular brand of conspiracy isn’t one of the 29 specific acts covered by law, which all relate to conduct as an officeholder or involving the federal government, federal employees, or public property.
Hunter pled guilty last month of conspiring with his wife to spend at least $150,000 in campaign money on personal travel, his daughter’s private school, fancy meals, and to fly the family’s pet bunny, Eggbert, across the country. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on March 17, but prosecutors say they’re seeking just a one year sentence.
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