BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The U.S. State Department says it is banning an imprisoned Romanian politician from entering the country because of his involvement in "significant corruption."

The decision announced Thursday affects Liviu Dragnea, a former chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party serving a 3½-year prison term in a graft case, and his two children.

Dragnea was found to have intervened to keep two women employed by his party on the payroll of a state agency.

Until his sentencing in May, Dragnea was considered the country's most powerful politician even though he could not become prime minister because of a 2016 conviction for vote rigging.

The State Department said that "today's action sends a strong signal that the United States is committed to fighting corruption and supporting the rule of law in Romania."