From the Office of State Senator Kel Seliger, District 31

January 19, 2011
Contact: Gina Dowdy
(806) 374-8994

Senator Seliger Files Bill to Forfeit Pensions of State Elected Officials who Abuse Public Trust

AUSTIN, Texas — State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) filed Senate Bill 371 yesterday to eliminate retirement annuity payments to members of the Legislature and statewide elected officials who are convicted of felonies arising directly from the official duties of their elected offices.

"Tax-supported pensions are justified by honorable service and citizenship. If this condition is acceptable for the judiciary, then it should be acceptable to members of the legislature and all statewide elected officials," said Seliger.

Under Senate Bill 371, the specific offenses that would trigger the elimination of the annuity include bribery, embezzlement, extortion, theft of public money, perjury, and conspiracy. Upon conviction one or more of these offenses, the retirement annuity contributions would be returned to the annuitant without interest. Current Texas law already requires all elected and appointed judges to forfeit their Judicial Retirement System pensions upon impeachment or removal for official misconduct. Of the ten largest states, only Texas and New York lack a pension forfeiture law for their state elected officials.

It is worthwhile to note that in 2007, bills to enact similar pension forfeiture requirements to members of Congress passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, but the bodies could not come to an agreement on a final bill to send to President George W. Bush.

Seliger represents District 31 in the Texas Senate, spanning 26 counties from the Panhandle to the Permian Basin. Seliger currently serves as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, as well as actively serving on the Education, Finance, International Relations and Trade, and Natural Resources Committees.