It turns out the old wrestling coach from Yorktown, Illinois was as dirty of a man as I always thought him to be from my days working with him as an Illinois House Republican staffer back in the 1980s when he was a former state lawmaker. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted for making cash withdrawals of $1.7 million from an Illinois bank over a four-year period as part of an agreement with an unidentified man to pay him $3.5 million to stay quiet about misconduct committed by Hastert known to the man and then lying about the purpose of the cash withdrawals to FBI agents. The unidentified man to whom the payments were made had known Hastert most of his life. The $3.5 million payment scheme allegedly began after a 2010 meeting between the two men about bad acts that pre-dated Hastert's political career (pre-1980) according to sources familiar with the case.
Hastert served as Speaker of the House for eight years after two successive House Speakers, Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, were forced from their positions in quick order by political scandals. The former high school wrestling coach has been working in Washington as a lobbyist since his resignation in 2008. Hastert faces two felony charges of structuring currency payments to avoid federal currency reporting requirements and lying to FBI agents. The indictment was made by the U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Long-time Advance Indiana readers will recall an under-reported allegation made by a government whistle blower, Sibel Edmonds, who claimed she had knowledge of bribes Hastert, former Indiana Rep. Dan Burton and other members of Congress had accepted from officials in Turkey. Hastert denied the allegation, but his first client as a lobbyist was the Turkish government, which reportedly paid him $35,000 a month.
I'll never forget a bad experience I had with Hastert when he was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. I was in a meeting of Republican members of the House Revenue Committee as the staff member for the committee when Hastert accused me of making misrepresentations about a bill he had sponsored before the committee in front of all of the members. His accusation was completely unfounded and his bill was a piece of crap he had introduced for some political crony in his district. The Republican spokesman for the committee later went to him and told him he was completely out-of-line and he owed me an apology. The classless Hastert refused to apologize to me. My boss, the House Minority Leader, would later tell me to keep an eye on Hastert because he didn't trust him. I told him I knew what he meant. Karma's a bitch, Denny! You're dirty secret is no more a secret.
A Chicago Tribune opinion offers this on Hastert's "Dark Secret":
. . . According to an affidavit, he'd made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each by July 2012 when bank officials — who are required to report transactions greater than $10,000 — questioned him. After that, he made frequent withdrawals of less than $10,000 "to evade the reporting requirements," it says.
When FBI agents confronted him about the withdrawals, Hastert said he was stashing the cash because he didn't trust the banking system, according to the feds. By that time, he'd withdrawn $1.7 million.
Why? The affidavit provides few clues. "Individual A" is a resident of Yorkville, where Hastert taught high school and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981. The two have known each other "for most of Individual A's life."
Hastert left teaching for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and quietly worked his way up to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became the longest serving Republican speaker in history. He's been a lobbyist since he left office.
Many of the people who knew and liked Hastert were, frankly, surprised that he rose to such national prominence.
But not nearly as surprised, no shocked, no stunned, as they are today.
On paper, he's accused of moving money around illegally and fibbing to the feds about it. Between the lines, prosecutors suggest he has harbored a dark secret.Pedophilia is a right and privilege for the rich and powerful. Remember how badly Hastert handled the sexual abuse of congressional pages by the perverts in Congress?