News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Congressmen who accept bribes should lose pensions

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to accepting bribes, but apparently he stands to receive about $40,000 a year as a congressional pension.

If he had been convicted, rather than pleading guilty, he would have forfeited the pension, according to The Associated Press. But he can look forward to that pension plus his military retirement after he completes whatever time a judge gives him with free room and board in a federal prison.

He doesn't deserve the congressional pension because, as he told California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in his resignation letter, "not only have I compromised the trust of my constituents, I have misled my family, friends, colleagues, staff and even myself."

Maybe his military pension should be in question, too. Not that he has been accused of misconduct while in the military, but the $2.4 million worth of bribes he took while in Congress came mostly from defense contractors in exchange for getting them government business.

This compromised the procurement system that is supposed to supply America's fighting men and women with the goods and services that will work best and protect them.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is right in asking House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., to introduce legislation to revoke convicted felons' pensions.

"A member of Congress who betrays the public trust by breaking the very laws he swears to uphold should not be permitted to keep the hard-earned money of American taxpayers," she said. "Congressional felons do not belong on the public dole."

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