State retirement system board strips Hastert of pension benefits

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert is surrounded by officers as he leaves federal court after pleading not guilty to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI in Chicago, Illinois, United States, June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Greg Bishop 
Illinois News Network

Disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert already lost his Teachers Retirement System pension. Now he won’t be getting any money from the state lawmaker retirement fund.

General Assembly Retirement System board members passed a motion Wednesday to revoke payouts to Hastert, who admitted to sexually abusing students when he was a high school teacher. Hastert pleaded guilty in 2015 to federal bank violations stemming from an extortion scheme related to the sexual abuse.

The GARS board debated whether to revoke Hastert’s state pension entirely or to reduce it from about $2,300 monthly to $755. A non-binding Illinois Attorney General opinion states that, because Hastert’s conviction was not related to his time as a state lawmaker, his pension could not be fully stripped.

But the GARS board decided Wednesday to follow the TRS board and strip his benefits entirely.

State law says a teacher’s pension can be stripped from them if they are “convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with his or her service as a teacher.”

Former state Rep. Daniel Pierce said Wednesday’s decision could lead to a lawsuit.

Hastert is serving a 15 month sentence and is scheduled to be released this summer. He still receives a federal pension of about $73,000 annually from his time in Congress.

Before his conviction, Hastert was collecting $125,000 annually from the three public pension systems.

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