Pingree to testify before House Government Reform Committee

Common Cause President Chellie Pingree will testify Wednesday before the House Government Reform Committee on an array of government reforms, including a proposal that would deny retirement benefits for federal policymakers convicted of accepting bribes and defrauding the federal government.

“The retirement benefits that Members of Congress and high-level federal employees get after they retire are often more than what the average American earns annually from a full-time job,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “The fact that public servants who have seriously violated their duties to the public would be rewarded by a lifetime pension seems grossly unfair to average citizens.”

Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), who recently left Congress under a cloud of scandal after admitting he accepted more than $2 million in bribes, is expected to receive his full retirement benefits after serving eight terms in Congress.

Pingree will also testify about the need for Congress to create an independent ethics commission, insulated from partisan manipulation, to investigate complaints and recommend sanctions against members who are found to be in violation of the rules.

“Peer review simply is not the answer when it comes to a fair, firm process that ensures that Members live by ethics rules on the books,” Pingree said. “An independent ethics commission would have the power to launch an investigation of an ethics complaint, or an allegation of an ethics impropriety, and then present its findings to the respective Ethics Committees of either the House or Senate.”