Wolf: Pensions for convicted officials a ‘betrayal of the public’s trust’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to send him a bill to update the state’s pension forfeiture law.

Two proposals introduced this year, House Bill 939 and Senate Bill 611, would take away the pension of a public employee or official who is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to their employment.

Currently, under Act 140 of 1978, only certain crimes automatically trigger pension forfeiture. State employees can plead guilty to different crimes and keep their taxayer-funded pensions.

“Providing pensions to those who have committed crimes related to their elected office is a betrayal of the public’s trust,” Wolf said in a statement. “We have taken important steps to reform our pension system but, as long as these loopholes exist, our pension system is vulnerable to malfeasance. Public officials should be held to the highest possible standard and we should expect more out of them and our government.”

Wolf’s statement did not mention former Democratic State Sen. Robert Mellow but came after the State Employees’ Retirement System board voted to return Mellow’s $246,000 a year pension.

Mellow served federal prison time for using his Senate staff for campaign work. His lawyers argued his crime wasn’t comparable to any of the state crimes listed in the pension forfeiture law.

House Bill 939 passed the House in May. Senate Bill 611 was reported out of the Finance Committee in April.

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