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Some Say Late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's Widow Should Forgo Death Benefits

NEWARK, N.J.(CBSNewYork) -- A day after Newark Mayor was elected to fill the Senate Seat vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg a controversy has risen over his death benefits.

Lautenberg left behind a big legacy and a large fortune, CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported, and some people have said that his widow should forgo his death benefits.

Lautenberg died in June after nearly three decades in the U.S. Senate. Many people would agree that he is owed a debt of gratitude but not everybody agrees that his widow Bonnie should receive $174,000, funded by taxpayers.

Lautenberg was worth nearly $60-million.

"I don't think it's right. I mean most us can't afford death benefits like that. You know we would be happy to have a little bit saved just to bury ourselves," Wayne resident Carol Dabaghian said.

The payoff was buried in the government shutdown bill. It is a death benefit that is almost always approved and is typically equal to one year's salary. Despite the cost some New Jersey residents felt that Lautenberg earned it for his family.

"He provided services to people while he was here. He's entitled to it. He should get it," Innocent Anyanw said.

Newly elected Senator Cory Booker told CBS 2's Brennan that he was not ready to comment on the situation.

"I don't even know the details on it so I wouldn't even want to comment on it. You're literally the first I've even heard about it," he said.

Many voters were proud of Lautenberg and his legacy and were confident that his widow would do what they called 'the right thing'.

"They should give some money to charity. Give it to the poor cities in New Jersey. do something good with it rather than putting it in their pockets," Angie Morrison said.

The Lautenberg family did not give CBS 2 a comment regarding the situation.

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