As the race for California's 3rd District congressional seat heats up, Democrat Ami Bera today took aim at Republican Rep. Dan Lungren's pension, calling it "lavish."
According to the Bera campaign, Lungren received $55,697 in pension income from the California Legislators Retirement Pension in 2009 for his eight years of service as the state's attorney general.
At the same time, the campaign said, Lungren received a congressional salary of $174,000, and he will be eligible for another $64,662 in estimated pension benefits each year when he leaves Congress.
Lungren received a 25.9 percent raise in his final month as attorney general, because the California Citizens Compensation Commission approved increases for all state officeholders effective Dec. 7, 1998. It increased the maximum amount he could collect on his pension by more than $11,500 per year.
The Bera campaign decided to highlight the issue in advance of the California Republicans' fall convention this weekend. One of the workshops on the agenda is called "The Pension Tsunami Facing California."
In a news release, the campaign said: "If California Republicans are really looking for concrete examples of lavish pension packages, they could look to one of their own: Rep. Dan Lungren."
Rob Stutzman, Lungren's strategist, said Lungren "paid into the system like everyone else." And he disputed Bera's math.
"Bera's claim of a 25.9 percent pay raise is false," he said. "Sounds like his math skills would qualify him well to join Nancy Pelosi in Washington to keep up the Democrat trend of deficit spending."
Stutzman noted that Lungren drew the $140,250-a-year salary only for one month, and that "on an annualized basis" Lungren's salary grew by less than 9 percent from the $102,000 he made when taking office in 1990 to the $111,000 he made for all but the final month of the last year.
Bera, a physician, does not receive any pension benefits. He reported an income of $46,600 in 2009, when he was leave for half of the year to run his campaign.
Editor's Note: This post was updated with clarifying comments from Stutzman at 4:40 p.m.