Dan Rostenkowski Daniel David Rostenkowski Born January 2, 1928 Chicago, Illinois Died - Office Illinois House of Representatives 1952 Illinois Senate 1954-1956 U.S. Representative 1959-1995 Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee 1981-1994 Political party Democratic Spouse Laverne, wed 1951 Dan Rostenkowski served in the U.S. Congress as a U.S. Representative for Illinois from 1959 to 1995. He is a Polish-American member of the United States Democratic Party. A product of the Cook County machine and the son of a "ward boss," Rostenkowski was for many years Democratic Committeeman of Chicago's 32nd Ward, retaining this position even while serving in Congress. In Washington he rose by virtue of seniority to the rank of Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1981. As Chairman of Ways and Means, he played an important role in tax and trade policy for more than a decade.
Rostenkowski's political career was shattered in 1994, when he was indicted on corruption charges, for his key role in the Congressional Check Kiting Scandal, and was forced to step down from all Congressional leadership positions. In elections later that year, Rostenkowski lost his seat and began retirement. Charges against Rostenkowski included keeping "ghost" employees on his payroll, using Congressional funds to buy gifts such as chairs and ashtrays for friends, and trading in officially purchased stamps for cash at the House post office. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of mail fraud. He was fined and was sentenced to 17 months in prison, of which he served 15. Rostenkowski was pardoned in 2001 by US President Bill Clinton, in a flurry of last-minute pardons as Clinton left office.
Rostenkowski's downfall in 1994 was portrayed by Republicans as emblematic of Democratic corruption. The scandal helped fuel the Republican victory in the House, led by Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America. "The rise and fall of Dan Rostenkowski tracks the rise and fall of Democrats in the House," concludes Richard E. Cohen in his book on Rostenkowski . "It is a story of power, accomplishments and, ultimately, failure and humiliation."
Rostenkowski was born January 2, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago. Following his political career, he has worked as a political commentator.