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November 16th, 2009
06:26 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pension Outrage, Tracking Your Tax Dollars

William Jefferson, shown with his wife, Andrea, represented the New Orleans area in Congress for 18 years.

William Jefferson, shown with his wife, Andrea, represented the New Orleans area in Congress for 18 years.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Convicted former Congressman William Jefferson, a New Orleans Democrat, is facing 13 years in prison for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. But what is more outrageous to some people is the fact that Jefferson will still get his congressional pension paid with your tax dollars.

What do you think about that? Sound off below.

The pension goes to Jefferson, even though Congress passed a law two years ago that was supposed to prohibit congressional convicts from cashing in. That's because his crimes were committed before the law was passed in 2007.

Jefferson isn't the only former lawmaker turned convict who gets to keep his pension. See who else is getting rich in prison tonight on 360°.

Plus, Sarah Palin's interview with Oprah Winfrey aired today. They covered politics, Levi Johnston and more. We've got the raw politics.

And, the American Cancer Society is speaking out against the new advice from a government panel that recommends women shouldn't get mammograms until the age of 50, instead of 40. We'll dig deeper on the controversy. And, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will answer your questions. Text them to AC360 or 22360. Standard message rates apply.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. jennifer

    Nathan, I have to disagree with you! There are people in this country who have a conscience. There are people who really will avoid doing scams even if it is extremely easy to do so. We can't just assume that everyone would do it and throw our hands up in the air and think there's nothing we can do about it! We can speek up when we see wrong. We can be our own lobbyist and demand change in the laws so our elected officials cannot take advantage of the power they have been given. And we can pressure the media to report news on positive actions, so the hope isn't lost!

    thoughts from another minnesotan

    November 17, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  2. John L Jones

    This is an outrage, paying someone who commits a crime. You people who make our laws get your heads out of your ____ and do something right for a change.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:42 am |
  3. Jim in NorCal

    Why would we be surprised? Congress writes the laws. They're certainly not going to hurt themselves. They know what they're doing. If they were really honest, they would outlaw lobbyists. Isn't lobbying really bribery? But, our members of Congress reap the benefits of lobbyists, and many go on to become lobbyists after Congress.

    November 17, 2009 at 3:47 am |
  4. Denene McBride

    It's about time Congress began enacting law that brings accountability to their own steps...unfortunately it's a day late and many dollars short. What surprises me is that people are shocked and surprised that these crooks and liars will continue to get paid. Last time I checked it had been a good long while since I felt a true honest gentleman was holding higher office.

    Lobbyist agendas and partisan politics make it impossible for anyone of real influence in Washington to do business, let alone "serve" without getting some dirt on them. Washington and its two "families" are the new face of organized crime.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:07 am |
  5. Patricia

    An ex-congressman who commits a criminal act and goes to prison can collect his full pension, paid for by working Americans.

    Yet a person who pays into Social Security for 40+ years and has various medical problems due to diabetes must fight to collect Social Security Disability. The government requires a person to see professionals that cost around $9,000 over a period of 2+ years, when the ill person has no income due to medical disability. Some people actually die before they are able to collect disability insurance.

    What a country!

    November 17, 2009 at 1:58 am |
  6. Marie

    Jefferson and other politicians who commit fradulant crimes in office should be made to earn their pensions by working in a chain gang, building and cleaning highways. How does locking them up benefit us? – they are just sucking-up more tax payer dollars in prison.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:35 am |
  7. Janine from PA.

    My question is, can we tax payers sue this guy to get our pension money back from him?
    In the meantime, congress needs to get rid of their tax payer based pension system and get 401K plans like many of us have that are investment driven. No tax money should go to pay for any benefits for these people.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:29 am |
  8. jeane

    Hey he is going to jail. That is the sentence. If you get fired today and are lucky enough to have a pension you still get it! He is no different. Haven't we given up enough without donating our hard earned pension back because of shocking information. And yes, as a taxpayer we do employ crooks sometimes like all businesses. And you best believe if Anderson or Joe get fired today they still get their pensions or whtaever they have negotiated in their contracts.

    November 16, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  9. Jim in Portland

    Speak for yourself Nathan Harrison. Nobody I know thinks the way you do and actually applaud when criminals like Jefferson are caught and imprisoned.

    November 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  10. dee

    This is such a crock of BS why do the congress get to kep the psnion when they been convicted of a crie? And then if they don't get a spouse might hell let me have some of it to pay my bills

    November 16, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  11. Dan

    This is a good story from CNN. Who were the authors of this law? Who was responsible to leave the loopholes in the Law to allow previous abuse of system?

    November 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  12. Georgia

    We shouldn't be surprised that he receives his pension. Congress makes their own rules to benefit themselves.
    I think I will run for Congress. My platform will be,"I know nothing, thus I am qualified". It shows the sad state of affairs our country is in when a convicted congressman is rewarded for his wrong doings.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  13. Karen from Michigan

    So we pay for his time spent in prison and we pay him while he is there. Sounds like we need to have some common sense laws like common citizens have to live by. No way should he be rewarded for his behavior.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  14. Scott S.

    Wow! The hard earned American tax dollars supporting criminals doing hard time. We should pass a law forcing them to use their pensions to pay for their costs for their prison time. If we do not then we are paying twice for these criminals.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  15. cheryl fellows

    I get denied a raise in my social security this year, and yet all this money goes to people like Jefferson..
    It is truly sad how our money that we worked for our whole lives is spent.
    Certainly not on us who make so little each year.
    It is not right.
    cheryl

    November 16, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  16. Nathan Harrison

    The humorous part about this is the anger so many people feel. IF, they could create their own scam and make millions they would.

    This country was built, stands for, and is all about scamming. Get with the program.

    How much do you make reporting this stuff ...knowing nothing is going to change ..except your bank account 🙂

    Nathan
    mpls, MN

    November 16, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  17. Nick, CA

    He gets his pension because of the constitution. A new law prevents criminals from getting pensions, but his crimes occurred before that law was passed. The constitution prevents anyone for being punished retroactively based on new laws. This constitutional provision is hugely important in protecting citizens from arbitrary post-facto legislation.

    This is not congress's fault, and this is not the administration's fault.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  18. Henry Herron

    This is complete BS and and another fraud committed by our leaders against the people. They say they can't take their pensions because a law can't be applied retro-actively. Tell that to the three guys I work with that can't own weapons because they were convicted of domestic violence when they were juveniles for fighting siblings. I work in the criminal justice system and I see the law applied retro-actively all the time. Ask any defense attorney and they will tell you the same thing.

    This is BS and sickens me.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  19. A. Mariscal

    The military also operates under the priviliged few get their cake and eat it to. Officers can commit crimes and be forced to retire or just hushed out the door but, enlisted men and woman are quickly court-martialed and made an example of. When will congress take the time to look at this injustice?

    November 16, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  20. Tony

    Hi Anderson,

    Sarah Palin spreads nothing but division, xenophobia, ignorance and anger which seems to be running rampant amongst the far right conservative religious base (very scary). According to CNN's poll only 3 in 10 americans think Palin is qualified to be president. Who are these 3 out of 10 americans? Wake up and smell the coffee people, she instills hatred and has extremely violent and psychotic tendancies. Yet, she's given way too much attention by the media. I think most americans would agree that she just needs tot go away and not come back! Palin and the people who support her are dangerous and don't even come close to representing the majority in this country (thank god). Palin and her kind need to grow up and get educated about the world!

    Thanks,

    Tony
    New York, New York

    November 16, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  21. Janine from PA.

    Why is this a surprise? Congress has no problem wasting our hard earned tax dollars on themselves, they just don't want to use our tax dollars for the good of the people.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  22. Conserve' for USA

    It's time the taxpayers band together and take the pensions away. If they get retirement, it shoulkd be the same as the rest of the country!

    November 16, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  23. teresa, oh

    I'm more interested in seeing how much time Mr. Jefferson will do. I was shocked at how much time he was sentenced to do. Rules are rules... if he is due the money, he should get it. While he didnt play the rules, it's best that we do. He doesnt look real healthy anyway.

    I'm very interested in the new guidelines for the mammogram screening. As I haven't followed the story, I'm wondering why the age change? Something tells me it has nothing to do with medicine and saving lives and all to do with MONEY.

    November 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    He shouldn't get his pension but under the rules he will. Nothing we can do about it so might as well not stress out about it – there are more important things to deal with now than a crooked politician who will go to prison where his pension will be immaterial – you don't spend much money in prison.

    Do we really have to watch more of Palin making a fool of herself? When will that woman just go away?

    November 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm |
  25. Tim Gibson

    Pensions for convicted criminals in our government is yet another reason to turn the tide in 2012. Waste is waste and that is what our leadership is best at.

    November 16, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  26. Cecil

    Congressman Jefferson will receive his government pension while spending his time at a "minimum security institution".......which is kinda like going to camp.

    November 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm |