Ex-Congressman Dan Rostenkowski Dead
Chaired tax committee but got ensnared in scandal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2010 12:24 PM CDT
Dan Rostenkowski in 1994.   (AP Photo/Charles Bennett, File)
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(Newser) – Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the Chicago Democrat who became the leading architect of congressional tax policy in the Reagan era but later went to federal prison for corruption, died today at age 82. As House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rostenkowski was known as a consensus builder and a master of legislative tactics. He is credited with leading a 1983 effort to rescue Social Security from insolvency and pushing through a sweeping 1986 overhaul of the nation's tax system.

But Rostenkowski himself acknowledged that his legacy would always be tainted by his stint in federal prison. "I know that my obituary will say, 'Dan Rostenkowski, felon,' and it is something that I have to live with,'" he said in a 1998 interview. His problems began in 1992 when a grand jury in Washington charged him with 17 counts of misusing government and campaign funds. The scandal forced him to step down as chairman and led to his 1994 defeat. Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2000.