Chris Collins First to Lose Pension Under Good Government Ethics Reforms

With Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) guilty plea, he stands to be the first member of Congress to lose his pension due to reforms passed in 2007 and 2012. The bipartisan laws were meant to stop politicians from being able to continue to benefit from taxpayer money in the case of felony convictions for corruption. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has calculated that Collins stands to lose more than $182,000 in taxpayer-funded pension dollars over the course of his expected lifetime.

 The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA) and the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012 were passed with an eye toward fighting corruption and providing additional accountability to taxpayers. But NTUF previously identified an unfortunate loophole that has allowed previous Congressional convicts, like former Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and former Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-NY), to continue receiving their pensions throughout lengthy appeal processes despite having been adjudicated guilty and sentenced to prison. Former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) introduced legislation in 2017 to cut off pensions for any Member convicted of a felony. The bill has not yet been reintroduced in the current Congress.

Because Collins is entering a guilty plea for his crimes, he would be the first to lose his pension under these ethics reforms, which passed both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly - HLOGA passed the Senate by a vote of 96-2, and the STOCK Act passed the Senate by a vote of 96-3. According to calculations from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, this would result in Collins’ loss of his pension of $10,555 per year (excluding the spousal annuity).

Based on an expected life span for a 69 year old male of 15.09 years, Collins will forego a total of $159,273 in taxpayer funds. The amount could top $182,000 factoring in projected annual cost-of-living-adjustments under the Federal Employees Retirement System.