US. - The Public Trust an Accountability Act will prevent federal employees guilty of "white collar" offences claiming their pension benefits.
The issue came to the fore after it emerged that Republican Randy Cunningham would get to keep his pension despite pleading guilty to accepting bribes worth US$2.4m in exchange for government contracts.
Under current law, government employees, including members of Congress and the Administration, would only risk losing pension benefits if they were convicted of violating national security laws.
But the accountability Act expands the current law’s scope to ensure all federal employees, elected and appointed, convicted of federal “white-collar” offences such as bribery, illegal solicitation of gifts or campaign contributions and perjury, also lost their pension benefits.
Congresswoman Melissa Hart, a member of the House Ethics Committee,said the act would help maintain the integrity of public service.
“One of the most important responsibilities any federal government employee is charged with, especially elected members of the Congress and the Executive Branch, is to uphold the integrity of public service,” said Hart, who is an original co-sponsor of the measure.
“When public servants abuse the power entrusted to them by the American people, they should be held accountable. Trust in government is imperative to a democratic system and anyone who breaks that contract with the voters harms both the institution of Congress and our country and should not be rewarded with a pension paid for by taxpayer dollars.”
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