Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Former Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski Passes Away

Another prominent former politician has died this week. Various news reports indicate that former long-time Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski passed away at this home earlier today. The 36 year Congressman was noted for many positive things, including his support of the 1986 Tax Reform Act.
Unfortunately, Rostenkowski will also be remembered for serving 17 months in federal prison following a mail fraud conviction. The Congressman got into trouble for using the House of Representatives' post office as a means of funneling taxpayer money for gifts to friends and associates.
As to his federal crimes, the Huffington Post notes today that, at that time, noted author and columnist Mike Royko had essentially described his offenses as "nickel and dime" stuff, which would not have been prosecuted back when Rostenkowski had first come to Congress. However, in the mid-1990's, when the Congressman was prosecuted, times had changed. According to Royko, Rostenkowski made an inviting target for federal prosecutors looking for a "big trophy" to put on their wall! (As a former federal prosecutor, I found Royko's observations to be entertaining!)
In 2000, shortly before leaving office, former President Clinton granted Rostenkowski a full pardon.

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