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Corruption Chronicles

Court Restores Jailed Gov.’s Public Pension

The famously corrupt Illinois governor who got stripped of his taxpayer-financed pension after fraud and racketeering convictions will collect it after all, thanks to an appellate court’s reversal of a state board decision later upheld by a judge.

Sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison after his 2006 convictions, Republican George Ryan lost his lucrative public pension after being imprisoned. The veteran politician was found guilty of taking bribes in exchange for passing laws and granting contracts both as governor and secretary of state.

The corruption in Ryan’s administration was widespread and rampant. He regularly steered lucrative public deals to cronies, illegally used state employees to run his campaigns and thwarted an investigation into the exchange of bribes for truck driver’s licenses when he was secretary of state.

So the Illinois Pension Board canceled Ryan’s entire pension and a court upheld the decision after the disgraced governor legally challenged it. He appealed and an Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in his favor. The jailed politician argued that he and his wife need the money to live on after he gets released from prison. 

So the sympathetic court restored a big chunk of Ryan’s annual retirement ($65,000 of $100,000) ruling that he will “still suffer a financial loss” in the termination of the smaller portion of the benefits. The court evidently reasoned that the restored portion was earned throughout decades of public service in which Ryan presumably committed no crimes.

Ryan asked George W. Bush for a pardon before leaving the White House, but the former president refused. Among those pushing for the pardon was Illinois’ recently impeached governor (Rod Blagojevich) who has been federally indicted for operating a massive bribery scheme. As lead cheerleader for a Ryan pardon, Blagojevich explained that “people make mistakes.” 


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