Aug 12, 2010

Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski dies at the age of 82

Former U.S. Representative from Illinois Dan Rostenkowski (pictured below) died in Wisconsin after a lengthy illness.

The Congressman with the booming voice served 18 terms in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Through his many years in office, Rostenkowski was regularly reelected even though his years in Washington were touched by trouble and scandal.

The dubious legacy of former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski as reported in the Los Angeles Times:

An old-style Chicago ward boss who became one of the nation's most powerful legislators during the Reagan era before a stunning fall to corruption charges that left him branded a political anachronism, died Wednesday.

Rostenkowski was found guilty of mail fraud and other charges in 1996 and served about 15 months in prison.

Mr. Rostenkowski's criminal slate was wiped clean by a Bill Clinton pardon. The Rostenkowski pardon was one of 396 pardons granted by Clinton.

Dan Rostenkowski played a major role in the 1986 Tax Reform Act, groundbreaking legislation that was intended to simplify the tax system and eliminate various tax shelters.

The reality of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 is that it made tax preparation much more difficult for a host of taxpayers and soon became known as the "Accountant's Retirement Act of 1986."

I was a self-employed tax accountant in the 1980's and my office was obliged to increase fees on many of the more complicated tax returns by 30% or more due to the added complexity in the tax code as a result of Rostenkowski's pet project, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

One of the Chicago newspapers tried to make light of the crimes that sent Rostenkowski to prison by saying he had been charged with stealing a few postage stamps and a couple of office chairs. However, it takes more than stealing a few postage stamps and a couple of office chairs to warrant a prison sentence.