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George Ryan Wants His Money

By Olivia Leigh in News on Nov 16, 2006 7:00PM

As former Gov. George Ryan waits to get shipped off to prison on Jan. 4, another former governor, James R. Thompson, has asked a state board to restore part of Ryan’s pension, claiming that Ryan was entitled to the benefits he accrued prior to any of his conviction-related activities.

Ryan’s $197,000-a-year pension was suspended as a result of his conviction and a formal recommendation from Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan. The General Assembly Retirement System board voted to uphold the ruling, but did assign a special lawyer to hear Thompson's case.ryan.jpg

Thompson, who has provided pro bono legal services to Ryan through his Winston & Strawn legal firm, argues that Ryan should only lose pension funds that were accrued during the time when he committed illegal activity, those 12 years he served as secretary of state and governor.

If Thompson’s argument is successful, Ryan’s pension would be based on a yearly salary of $65,835, his salary at the end of his service as Thompson’s lieutenant governor in January 1991. At that rate, Ryan’s pension would total more than $50,000 annually.

Timothy Blair, acting executive director of the pension system, said that if the board ruled against Ryan, he would still receive a refund of about $254,000 for his contributions to his pension over 36 years.

Call us crazy, but we have a bit of trouble feeling sorry for a convicted felon who is guaranteed to receive at least $250,000, especially when he is going to be shuttered away in the jailhouse for the next six years, where he won't really need to tap into those monies. We can sympathize with a possible desire to assist his wife, but given his past record of greed and dishonor, we aren’t fully convinced those are his motives.

Having not shown any empathy toward the state and its families that have grieved as a result of his actions, empathizing for his financial woes seems proposterous. After all, his actions didn’t only take away financial resources from the state, but took away lives, as well.