Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., is filing a bill on Wednesday to ban former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., from collecting about $100,000 a year in workers’ compensation — for an unspecified job-related injury — because he was convicted of looting his campaign fund.
“We want to make sure that anybody convicted of a crime, be that Congressman Jackson or any member of Congress, is not able to submit a claim for workers’ compensation at the same time,” Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Members of Congress “should be held to a higher standard because our job is something that we willingly ask the voters to send us to,” Davis said.
The measure, to be titled “Protecting Taxpayers from Corruption Act,” would change the law so that any member of Congress who converts campaign funds to personal use — Jackson’s crime — would forfeit eligibility for workers’ compensation.
Both Jackson and his wife, Sandi, a former alderman, did prison time for their roles in stealing about $750,000 from campaign funds and using the money to finance spending sprees between 2005 and 2012. They both pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, 2013.
The couple are embroiled in a messy divorce. A fight over child support led to the disclosure that the sources of Jackson family gross income of $138,452 are payments from workers comp and Social Security Disability Insurance, according to a report from the D.C. government Child Support Services Division filed with the D.C. court.
Jackson, who has been battling severe mental health problems for years, gets $124,052 per year in workers comp and SSDI benefits for himself. An additional $14,400 per year is for SSDI “derivative benefits” flowing to the Jackson children and counting as Jackson’s income.
When Jackson resigned while under an investigative cloud in November 2012, the base salary for lawmakers was $174,000. A benefit statement in the D.C. divorce court file stated that Jackson’s workers comp “date of injury” was June 1, 2012, and provided no other details.
The long-term payments drew the attention of Davis, a member of the Committee on House Administration that oversees the internal management of the House.
Part of the issue when it comes to lawmakers is transparency, Davis said. “We don’t know why Cong. Jackson submitted that claim.”
Davis’ legislation would “require the forfeiture of workers’ compensation benefits” for a variety of criminal offenses, including by “any individual who, while serving as a Member of Congress, converted campaign funds to personal use in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 or engaged in other offenses relating to the abuse of the public trust.”
In addition, the Davis measure would require the chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives to submit a report to the House Administration Committee each year with a list of members or former members receiving workers’ compensation payments.
Told of the pending legislation and asked for a reaction, Brendan Hammer, Jackson’s attorney said, “Mr. Jackson’s health and disability related benefits are a private matter that he will address only with his physicians and the departments of government that grant and renew those benefits.”
Davis said he is hoping to gain bipartisan support for his measure to strip Jackson of his workers’ comp benefits.