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Chiappone's pension forfeiture bill

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Posted by John Russo on April 16, 2005 at 08:17:07:

An article about Assemblyman Chiappone's pension forfeiture bill is in the Asbury Park Press. It seems like it is gaining momentum, but why aren't any of Hudson County's officials supporting this bill?

Panel backs bill to bar pensions Published in the Asbury Park Press 04/16/05 By TOM BALDWIN GANNETT STATE BUREAU

- advertisements - TRENTON — A state review panel unanimously voted Friday in favor of a draft of a potential law that would deny pensions to elected officials convicted of crimes that touched on their public offices.

For now, a rogue politician can receive all or a part of a pension even after being convicted. Any decisions about whether to reduce or eliminate a pension are made by the trustees for the various state pension funds.

The Pension and Health Benefits Review Commission, a creation of the Legislature that makes nonbinding recommendations after reviewing proposed bills, took the action Friday to support changing the law.

"I'm very pleased. Thank you," said Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, D-Hudson, the prime sponsor of the measure, who told the commission he has received thousands of support letters and calls to his office about the proposal.

"The message is clear," said Chiappone, a freshman lawmaker. "The public is outraged that corrupt, convicted public officials have even the slightest chance to retire on taxpayer-funded pensions."

Following a spate of arrests of political figures in the last few years, the bill proposed by Chiappone and others like it appear to be attracting support from both major parties, with lawmakers wanting to become co-sponsors.

Last week, former Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto, D-Hudson, lost the last five years of his teacher's pension for his admitted misspending of political campaign funds. He is a former teacher and administrator in Secaucus High School.

The proposed law says any current or former elected official convicted of a crime involving or touching on his or her public office must forfeit all pension or retirement benefits as a member of any state or local pension fund.

In the weeks ahead, other convicted politicians are due to appear before the same pension board to try to hold onto at least part of their pensions. Chiappone's bill won't be law by then, though its spirit could affect the board's decisions.

The proposal introduced by Chiappone, which now has six other cosponsors in the Assembly and Senate, is before the Assembly State Government Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.


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