Jan. 16, 2015

HARRISBURG - Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Ethics Committee in the 2013-14 legislative session, is proposing tough legislation to ensure public officials and public employees are held accountable for crimes related to their government duties.
Petri’s legislation would require a public official or public employee to forfeit his or her pension when he or she pleads guilty or no contest to any crime related to his or her official government position or any felony offense.
Under the existing Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act, state employees or state officials who are charged with a forfeiture crime have the ability to plead to a “non-forfeiture” offense - to avoid losing their pensions. The bills Petri is proposing would close this loophole.
“I believe that any state employee or state official who violates the public trust by committing a felony or any crime related to his or her public office or employment should forfeit his or her pension,” said Petri. “Currently 11 states have legislation that requires forfeiture for any conviction involving public office for any felony. Nine others revoke pensions for any crime involving their office.
“Pennsylvania’s statue determines pension forfeiture by the type of crime committed,” said Petri. “The bills I am introducing will lengthen the list of offenses, making our public corruption laws the toughest in the country. Under these changes, public officials and employees would not be able to avoid pension forfeiture by pleading guilty to conflict-of-interest charges. We have seen government officials and employees in some high-profile cases make pleas to avoid sacrificing their taxpayer-paid pensions. My legislation would take away the discretion in these cases, requiring offenders to face the real penalties associated with their crimes. If we are serious about putting an end to public corruption, this is a great place to start.
“Public officials take an oath, swearing to uphold the constitution and protect the interests of Pennsylvania citizens. If that oath means anything – and I believe it does - we must hold those who speak those words accountable for their actions,” said Petri.

Representative Scott Petri
178th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham