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November 30, 2012 | By | Posted in Legislature, WatchBlog

WATCHBLOG: Two departing state Reps to continue being paid by taxpayers

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – A pair of departing state lawmakers will get soft landings in new gigs as House staffers making $72,000 per year.

According to Kevin Zwick of Capitolwire, state Reps. Joe Brennan, D-Lehigh, and Ken Smith, D-Lackawanna, will start jobs as staffers for the House Democratic caucus on Dec. 3, just two days after they stop being paid as legislators.

Brennan will be a research analyst in the Legislative Policy and Research Office, and Smith will join the Office of Member Services where he will assist on a short-term basis in helping the unusually large group of incoming new lawmakers, according to House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton.

State Rep. Joe Brennan, D-Lehigh

Both will be making $72,000 per year, a decrease of their previous salary as lawmakers of $82,026. They will continue to receive the same health benefits, for which both members and staff are eligible.

Brennan withdrew from seeking re-election in August after being arrested for allegedly beating his wife and drunk driving in the Allentown suburb where he lives.  He was charged with simple assault, harassment and driving under the influence.

Previously, Brennan was arrested in June 2011 for drunken driving, pleaded guilty in November 2010 to reckless driving after a crash in Bethleheminvolving his state vehicle. He also was charged in March 2003 with stealing cigarettes and razors from a Lehigh County store.

State Rep. Ken Smith, D-Lackawanna

Smith was defeated in April’s primary election by Kevin Haggerty, who went on to win the general election in November and will be sworn in as a new member of the state House on Jan. 1.

According to a Scranton Times-Tribune article from April, Smith owed $250,000 in back taxes, mostly tied to a restaurant owned by his family.

Both Brennan and Smith were first elected in 2006.

Friday is technically the final day of the 2011-12 legislative session, so it is the last day that departing lawmakers receive pay, benefits and per diems.

Contact Boehm at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter.

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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