Hastert to lose thousands more in pension benefits
Former U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert's pension from his days as a state lawmaker will drop sharply following his federal sentencing last month, according to a letter sent from a state pension official.
And the longest-serving Republican speaker now owes the state $1,687.15, according to a May 27 letter sent by General Assembly Retirement System Secretary Timothy Blair.
Hastert lost his Illinois teacher pension the day he was sentenced to 15 months for violating federal banking laws in an effort to cover up past sexual misconduct while he was a high school wrestling coach.
Under Illinois law, Hastert's time as a teacher helped boost the size of the pension he earned as a lawmaker. Since his teacher pension was taken away, the size of his legislative pension benefit "has been recalculated independently to reflect the forfeiture," the letter reads.
Now, instead of taking in $2,335 per month for a more than $28,000 annual pension, Hastert will get monthly payments of about $802 for an annual benefit of about $9,620, according to Blair's letter.
And Hastert owes $1,687.15 to the state for April and May payments that should have been smaller, the letter reads.
The letter doesn't touch on Hastert's federal case. It lays out the new numbers in a few paragraphs.
The board that oversees lawmakers' pension fund is set to review the move in October.
"I cannot imagine the GARS Board doing anything other than approving the reduction, which is based on the pension statutes and regulations in place," state Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican and board member, said. "It is possible that harsher action could be suggested."
Hastert was stripped of his $16,623 teacher pension because the sexual misconduct he admitted to during his sentencing occurred while he was working at Yorkville High School.
No known misconduct occurred during his time as a lawmaker, so that pension remains, as does Hastert's benefit from his time in Congress.
At least one lawmaker has pushed for Hastert's pension to be cut further.
"He confessed to molesting children," state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, a Shorewood Democrat, said. "His pension needs to be eliminated. Period."
She's now filed a plan in Springfield aimed at Hastert's benefits, proposing that a pension be taken away if someone "at any time" is convicted of a felony "while in any position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim."
Hastert hasn't yet started serving his 15-month prison sentence.