VERIFY: Do Congress members who resign amid sexual harassment allegations keep their pension?

At least three members of Congress have resigned over sexual misconduct allegations. It has people reaching out to WUSA9's Verify team to find out of those lawmakers get pensions after they leave.

QUESTION:

Do Congress members who resign amid sexual harassment allegations keep their pension?

ANSWER:

Yep. A felony conviction is the only way a Congress member would lose their retirement package and health benefits.

SOURCES:

Pete Sepp- President- National Tax Payers Union & NTU Foundation

Dan Weiser- Communications Director- U.S. House of Representatives Chief Administrative Officer

Statement on Chaka Fattah June 2016- U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics

PROCESS:

In the past two weeks three Congress members have left out the backdoor, choosing to resign rather than face an ethics investigation amid sexual harassment allegations.

But how does resigning differ from retiring? One Verify viewer asked whether a legislator leaving public office amid sexual harassment allegations get to keep their retirement benefits.

Turns out they do. Under 5 U.S.C. § 8332 and 5 U.S.C. § 8411 pensions would only be denied with a felony conviction. 

"A Member may be disqualified from receiving a federal pension related to his or her service as a Member of the House if she or he has been finally convicted of any of a list of certain felony offenses (mostly related to corruption," Dan Weiser, spokesperson for the House Administrative Office, said explaining the law. 

"A Member resigning would have no impact on his/her ability to collect a pension or other qualifying benefits unless that Member has been charged with and finally convicted...of certain felonies while serving as a Member of Congress," Weiser said.

 

 

We cross-referenced with Pete Stepp, president of National Taxpayers Union.

"These felonies are primarily public corruption of office crimes like bribery, extortion, witness tampering, election fraud, tax evasion, perjury, etc.," Stepp said. "Sexual misconduct and harassment allegations are not part of that list and would not lead to loss of pension on it's own."

If you're wondering whether any of the resigning lawmakers will ever be investigated by their chamber's ethics committees, they won't. Both the House and Senate ethics committees can only investigate a someone currently in office. 

We saw this in the 2016 case of Representative Chaka Fattah who resigned amid allegations of conspiracy, racketeering, bribery and fraud. The House committee stopped investigating Fattah upon his resignation.

As a consequence, the Investigative Subcommittee and the Committee no longer have jurisdiction over him. The Committee considers this matter closed." resigned from the House on June 23, 2016," the statement reads. "FattahRepresentative "

 

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