Pension board votes to suspend Hastert's $28,000 pension

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will continue to forgo his $28,000 a year pension from his years as an Illinois lawmaker.

The board governing the pension system for members of the General Assembly unanimously voted Friday to suspend the pension until it gets a clearer picture.

The seven-member board said Hastert has filed suit against the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System after it revoked Hastert's pension in late April because of a state law preventing pension collection by anyone with a felony conviction related to his or her time teaching. TRS spokesman Dave Urbanek would not say whether Hastert has sued.

Members of the lawmakers' pension board include Republican state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, Democratic state Reps. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook and Mike Zalewski of Riverside and Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park.

"The initial suspension was simply a staff decision. We today took the vote to affirm the staff decision," Harris said. "We did that to protect the assets of the pension fund."

Hastert, of Plano, is serving a 15-month federal sentence in Minnesota after pleading guilty to federal money laundering charges involving payments to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct. At his April 27 sentencing, Hastert admitted he had sexually abused teenage boys he'd taught and coached.

Before his conviction, Hastert had been receiving three pensions totaling about $125,000 a year - a $16,000 annual TRS pension from his time teaching and coaching at Yorkville High School, a $28,000 General Assembly Pension from his six years as a member of the Illinois House, and a $73,000 annual pension from his 20 years in Congress.

Hastert's General Assembly benefits were calculated under a statute that gave him extra credit for being in TRS.

"An attorney general's opinion has been requested to determine whether your recent felony conviction is cause for the termination of your GARS benefit, or if your benefit should be recalculated (reduced) to reflect the forfeiture of your (Teachers' Retirement System) benefit," a letter to Hastert reads.

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