President Reagan’s Ability to Receive Retirement Benefits From the State of California

Headnotes: 

Payment to President Reagan of the state retirement benefits to which he is entitled is not intended to subject him to improper influence, nor would it have any such effect, and therefore his receipt of such benefits would not violate the Presidential Emoluments Clause. U.S. Const., Art. II, § 1, cl. 7.

Even if the Presidential Emoluments Clause were interpreted strictly on the basis of the dictionary definition of the term “emolument,” it would not prohibit President Reagan’s receipt of state retirement benefits since under state law those benefits are neither a gift nor a part of the retiree’s compensation.

The role of the Comptroller General in enforcing compliance with the Presidential Emoluments Clause is debatable, the penalty for a violation is unclear, and the Constitution might in any case make questionable the withholding of any part of the President’s salary for an indebtedness to the United States.

Updated July 9, 2014