Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued an opinion determining prison-bound former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is ineligible to receive a state pension because of his felony corruption convictions.
Blagojevich would have been eligible to draw his five-figure state pension beginning Saturday when he turns 55, the minimum age to collect a pension from the General Assembly Retirement System without penalty.
Madigan’s opinion cites state law that allows the retirement system for legislators and statewide officeholders to deny benefits if the politician is convicted of a felony related to service during their time in public office.
“It is my opinion that Rod Blagojevich has forfeited all of his pension benefits,” Madigan wrote.
Blagojevich was due to receive a $64,500 pension in his first year of eligibility for his 10 years holding elected office — six years and one month as governor and four years as a state representative, said Tim Blair, executive secretary of the retirement system. Blair and the retirement system’s governing board had requested Madigan’s opinion on the matter.
Blagojevich could still apply for his pension, but would be told by Blair that his “annuity is suspended because of this conviction.” Blagojevich could then appeal the decision to the agency’s board, but it would have the power of Madigan’s opinion in its favor, Blair added.
Blair said during Blagojevich’s time in office, the former governor contributed $129,167.86 toward his pension. He will be allowed to recoup those funds, but not any interest accumulated during that time. The federal government might also take some to cover a $20,000 fine that was imposed as part of his sentence.
“The federal government is one of few entities that can take retirement money to cover court fines,” Blair said.
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison Wednesday. He has until Feb. 16 to report.
He remains eligible to receive a federal pension of roughly $15,000 a year for serving six years in Congress. He can begin collecting that when he turns 62.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.