Former U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski dead

Aug. 11, 2010 at 3:35 PM
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CHICAGO, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Rep Dan Rostenkowski, who rose to be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and went to prison in disgrace, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Rostenkowski died at his summer home in Powers Lake, Wis., after a long battle with cancer, the Chicago Tribune reported.

A onetime Washington political insider and power broker, Rostenkowski represented his Chicago 5th Congressional District in Congress for 36 years, rising to head the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee that rewrote the 1986 U.S. tax code. The son of 32nd Ward Democratic Alderman Joseph Rostenkowski, Daniel was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1958 and served until scandal brought him down in 1994.

He was indicted on 17 counts ranging from mail and wire fraud to obstruction of justice, including hiring ghost payrollers and maintaining political slush funds.

He also served in the Illinois House in 1952 and was elected to the state Senate in 1954.

In 1996, he was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison in Oxford, Wis., after he pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud for misusing taxpayer funds by lying about minor expense account rule violations governing postage stamps and office chairs.

An old-style, blue-collar, rough-and-tumble politician once known as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's man in Washington, he was defeated in his re-election effort by Republican Michael Patrick Flanagan, a political neophyte who served one term in the House, and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Rostenkowski never apologized for the scandal and later became a frequent political analyst and election-night commentator on Chicago radio and television stations.

He is survived by his wife LaVerne and daughters Dawn, Kristie and Gayle.

Visitation was scheduled Monday afternoon at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago with funeral services at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church. He will be interred at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles, Ill.

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