Reality Check: Taxpayers To Pay Pensions Of Convicted Lawmakers

Five convicted state lawmakers will still receive every penny of their state pension, WISC-TV reported.

Some states mandate and others states allow for the reduction or complete loss of pensions if a person is convicted of a crime.

But in Wisconsin, there are no such laws, so former lawmakers Scott Jensen, Chuck Chvala, Steve Foti, Bonnie Ladwig and Brian Burke will keep their lucrative retirement deals.

Just how much each will receive is somewhat of a mystery. The exact amount is secret because state law prohibits state pension administrators from discussing anyone’s deal, including elected officials.

But, a formula calculator on the state Department of Employee Trust Funds Web site allows anyone to calculate an estimate if you know how much the employee made, how long they worked for state government and their birth date.

A WISC-TV analysis estimate found that former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen tops the list. When he turns 62, he’ll collect at least $1,771 every month until he dies, WISC-TV calculated.

Former state Sen. Chuck Chvala and former Rep. Steve Foti both served 21 years in the legislature and are in line for roughly $1,759 a month once they reach retirement.

Convicted former Sen. Brian Burke is estimated to get $1,078 a month. He served in the legislature from 1989 to 2002.

And Bonnie Ladwig, a former Assemblywoman, might already be collecting $945 a month. She’s eligible to receive payments because she’s 66 years old.

Seventeen states have laws allowing the loss of taxpayer-funded pensions, WISC-TV reported. Wisconsin isn’t one of them. Some states cut off the entire pension. Other states only cut the taxpayer-funded portion.

In Wisconsin, taxpayers pay for the entire pension of state lawmakers. Some pensions require an employee contribution, but that’s not the case for state legislators.

West Bend Sen. Tom Reynolds introduced a bill this session to require state elected officials to kick in part of the contribution.

The bill would require 1.5 percent of payroll to be paid by employees. The state would still be funding most of the contribution. The bill would also allow the public to see the details of pension plans for elected officials.

That bill had no co-sponsors and failed without a vote.

Reynolds says he’ll re-introduce the bill next session.

To read more about Wisconsin politics, visit WISC-TV’s Colin Benedict’s brand new blog.

Previous Stories:

May 16, 2006: Jensen Gets Prison Time In Corruption Scandal
May 15, 2006: Chvala Sent To Home Detention
May 12, 2006: Jensen Says He’ll Appeal Guilty Conviction
May 12, 2006: Jensen Supporters Ask Judge To Spare Ex-Lawmaker Prison Time
May 9, 2006: Prosecutors Want Jensen To Spend Year And A Half In Prison
April 26, 2006: Former Majority Leader Is Back At Capitol
April 16, 2006: Foti Goes To Jail
April 13, 2006: Aide Says He Deleted Jensen E-Mails After Legislator Resigned
April 11, 2006: State Supreme Court Suspends Chvala’s Law License
March 27, 2006: Foti Sentenced To 60 Days In Jail
March 26, 2006: Chvala Could Face More Fines
March 21, 2006: Jensen Gives Up Assembly Seat
March 16, 2006: Doyle: No Special Election For Jensen’s Seat
March 14, 2006: Party Officials: Schultz To Leave GOP Job
March 13, 2006: Jensen To Resign Seat In Legislature
March 13, 2006: Jensen Jury Foreman Calls Experience Intense
March 13, 2006: Jensen Now Faces Up To 16 Years In Prison
March 12, 2006: Rep. Black Calls For Ethics Legislation
March 12, 2006: Jensen Found Guilty On All Counts
March 11, 2006: Jensen Trial: Jury Deliberations Continue
March 10, 2006: Political Whistle-Blower Waits For Jensen Verdict
March 10, 2006: Jensen Trial: Jury Gets Case, Heads Home
March 9, 2006: Jensen Trial: Closing Arguments Finishing Up Thursday Afternoon
March 8, 2006: Closing Arguments Coming In Jensen Trial
March 8, 2006: Jensen Says He Didn’t Know Workers Were Campaigning
March 7, 2006: Jensen Takes The Stand
March 7, 2006: Jensen’s Former Employees Defend Old Boss
March 3, 2006: Foti Testifies; Prosecution Rests In Jensen Trial
March 3, 2006: Former Assembly Leader Testifies Against Jensen
March 2, 2006: Former Aide: Jensen Was A ‘Hands-Off’ Boss
March 1, 2006: Jensen Trial: Prosecutors Focus On Former GOP Aide
February 28, 2006: Jensen Staffer Says She Handled Campaign Work
February 27, 2006: Ex-ARC Director: Jensen Told State Workers To Do Campaign Work
February 24, 2006: Whistleblower Takes Stand In Jensen Trial
February 24, 2006: Jensen Trial: Ex-Employee Testifies About Campaign Work On State Time
February 23, 2006: Jensen Trial: Artist Tells Of Working For Candidates
February 22, 2006: Elections Chief Testifies In Jensen Trial
February 21, 2006: Jury Selected In Jensen Trial
February 21, 2006: Juror Dispute Arises In Jensen Trial
February 20, 2006: Jensen Trial To Begin Tuesday
February 13, 2006: Chvala Processed Into Dane County Jail
February 3, 2006: Judge Refuses To Toss Charges Against Jensen, Aide
February 3, 2006: Jensen Makes Court Appearance On Friday
February 1, 2006: Jensen: Democrats Had Aides Campaign On State Time
February 1, 2006: Chvala Challenges Restitution Recommendation
January 13, 2006: Former Lawmaker Strikes Plea Deal
January 12, 2006: Foti Expected To Change Plea In Corruption Scandal
January 4, 2006: Judge Declines To Move Jensen’s Trial
December 29, 2005: Former State Lawmaker Pleads Guilty
December 16, 2005: Chvala Sentenced To Jail, Probation
December 15, 2005: Chvala Sentenced To 9 Months In Jail
December 15, 2005: Chuck Chvala Timeline
December 15, 2005: Chvala To Be Sentenced Thursday Morning
December 15, 2005: Chvala Case Article Archive
December 8, 2005: Chvala Asks For No Jail Time
December 6, 2005: Prosecutors Ask For Jail Time For Chvala
October 26, 2005: Chvala Pleads Guilty To Two Felony Counts
October 25, 2005: Former Senator Pleads Guilty
October 24, 2005: Former State Senator To Enter Plea
July 13, 2004: Under The Dome: Alleged Internet Smear Campaign