SPRINGFIELD — Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's $65,000-a-year state pension won't be sent his way when he turns 55 Saturday — and it's a chunk of change he's likely to be forever denied.
The Democratic politician still is likely to get a federal pension for the six years he spent as a congressman, however.
The difference? Blagojevich's misdeeds took place when he served as governor, not in Congress.
In October, the board of the General Assembly Retirement System made the decision to block payments, at least temporarily, to newly convicted ex-officials. The move was made because Blagojevich's upcoming birthday put him in a position to be a potential, though still unlikely, candidate for a state pension. The pension system typically used to wait for an attorney general opinion once a politician is sentenced to see whether any of the crimes were connected with official state duties.
In Blagojevich's case, payments will be stopped before they can get started, said Tim Blair, who oversees the state pension system for retired lawmakers and statewide officials. Blair asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan to review the Blagojevich pension issue shortly after the former governor's 14-year sentence was pronounced Wednesday. Madigan's office will respond as quickly as possible, a spokeswoman said.
Madigan's review of the Blagojevich pension matter may be academic given his convictions for attempting to shake down a children's hospital and a racetrack in exchange for political contributions as well as trying to leverage personal gain from a U.S. Senate appointment.
Big money is at stake. If Blagojevich loses the state pension, he still would get a refund of about $128,000 for the personal contributions he made to the retirement fund during four years as a state legislator and six years as governor. At age 62, his federal pension would be roughly $15,000, officials said.
Convicted ex-Gov. George Ryan, a Republican now in a federal lockup for his own corruption, raked in $635,000 from Illinois taxpayers in the three-plus years between his retirement and his conviction, according to pension officials. Ryan received a refund of $235,500 when his pension was halted.