Former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert has been indicted for allegedly structuring bank withdrawals of $952,000 to evade bank reporting requirements and then making false statements to federal investigators.
According to various media outlets, quoting unnamed law enforcement sources, this was part of a $3.5 million “hush money” agreement he made in 2010 with a former student over some form of sexual misconduct more than three decades ago.
However, it’s the method Hastert used for the withdrawals and the coverup that landed him in hot water with the Feds, not his actions with the former student.
If these allegations are true, they would be despicable. Any sexual contact between an adult and a minor is against the law (although it may not be prosecutable due to the statute of limitations). The wrong would be compounded, whether or not the act was consensual, because, at the time of the alleged incident, Hastert was in a position of power and influence over the student. People in positions of power are held to a higher standard — or they should be —such as a doctor and a patient or a president of the United States and an INTERN. Anyone remember Monica?
We don’t know if any of these allegations are true! What we do know, however, should shock us. The question we should be asking is how did a humble, small town wrestling coach who went to Washington become a multimillionaire who could agree to a $3.5 million payout?
Certainly, not on his congressional salary. Living in Washington is super expensive. That’s why many congressmen share apartments while in the nation’s capitol. However, those who know how to weld their political power, rob us blind. It’s become SOP — standard operating procedure.
While the public is beginning to take an interest in the recent revelations involving the Clintons’ fortune, it should be noted that most congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, go home wealthy beyond belief. So much for the term “public servant”!
Hastert had his own Whitewater and “play for pay” problems. His Whitewater was the Prairie Parkway. It was a $207 million earmark he inserted into the 2005 Omnibus Highway Bill for an expressway in his district. He and his wife just happened to own part of a large track of land near the project, which they failed to disclose. Due to the earmark, it skyrocketed in value giving Hastert a tidy $1.8 million profit in just two years.
If you’ve never heard about it don’t worry. Most people have never heard of Denny Hastert, even though he was the longest serving GOP speaker in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives.
He was a quite, unassuming guy who rose through the political ranks by becoming useful to some powerful political mentors, first in the Illinois statehouse and then in Congress. His claim to fame was his backroom dealmaking. You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.
He was considered by some to be a breath of fresh air after the flamboyant Newt Gingrich. In short, Hastert was elected speaker because he would not “rock the boat.” He was a fierce defender of the status quo, especially the infamous “earmark” — the practice of inserting riders (political payoffs) into bills at the last minute which have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
As for “play for pay,” shortly after his elevation to speaker, the Washington Post reported that lobbyists were celebrating because Hastert was offering them private audiences for a price.
You do the math: Hastert’s net worth when he entered Congress was somewhere around $270,000, largely due to some land inherited by his wife. When he left, it was somewhere between $4 and $17 million.
Then, surprise, surprise, he became a lobbyist making the millions he racked up as a congressman seem like small change.
Why is it that so many congressmen and senators are paid exorbitant salaries to lobby their former colleges when they step down? They have no real power anymore.
It’s their ability to steer legislation through Congress, legislation that benefits those who pay them the big bucks. They call in the many political favors they did for those who are still there to rob us blind.
The longer your representatives stay in power, the more political favors they owe and the more taxpayer dollars they needlessly spend. That’s how it works for the political class. We need to eliminate it. We don’t need career politicians in Congress or the White House. They legally rob us blind.
That is the real lesson from the scandal involving Denny Hastert.