The Hastert Indictment

Things have gotten so bad that one’s first thought on reading about Hastert is that he probably either 1) did something that conflicted with the interests of prominent Obama adminstration constituents or 2) was singled out to intimidate Republicans before the 2016 elections.

UPDATE: This post from Glenn Greenwald makes important points. (Via Lex.)

29 thoughts on “The Hastert Indictment”

  1. Tom Sullivan was talking about him today. As he asked how do you go to Congress worth next to nothing and leave worth millions?

  2. Well, this sets a nice precedent to go after folks in the Obama administration once they’re out of office. One could lock up quite a few votes running on that alone,

  3. This is a very weird story. Hastert is accused of paying someone else of, which is the opposite of what politicians usually get burned for.

    Also the Buzzfeed story seems rather slanted. The Republican Congressional “scandals” it lists are the Terri Schiavo case (it was a controversy, but where’s the scandal?), the Tom DeLay case (all charges were dismissed on appeal), and the Foley case (nothing to do with Hastert, any more than Anthony Weiner is Nancy Pelosi’s fault).

  4. As he asked how do you go to Congress public service worth next to nothing and leave worth millions?

    I’m sure the Clinton family can answer that one.

  5. @ Bill Brandt,
    It’s not that hard. As of 1992 the annual salary was $129,500. And I seem to recall that living expenses and medical expenses are covered. So 20 years of that and reasonably prudent finances should do the job easily for even the most honest man. So overall I’d say that Jonathon is correct about the true motivation behind this and if I had to guess it would be #2. There’s also a strange case going on in South Dakota where they seem to be going after a female doctor pretty harshly on petition circulating technicalities. There are probably currents in that case that I don’t understand but my current suspicion is that the real reason is that she ran at all and I would love to be proven wrong. ^_^;

  6. Hastert made a lot of money on real estate deals related to a highway extension in his district

    I was thinking the same thing as Robert. The IRS reporting laws are meant to catch people moving money to commit a crime, not moving money because they’re the victim of a crime. It’s probably another case where the Feds figured that he had probably been skirting the law for years, so this was as good as anything to proceed with.

  7. Reading the indictment, Hastert is pretty obviously guilty of the charges. When you’ve been withdrawing cash at $50k a pop for a couple of years, get asked about it by the bank and then start withdrawing at the same rate but at less than $10k a pop you are pretty obviously guility of evading the reporting requirements. For the same reason, his evasions with the FBI are pretty transparent.

    To be honest, I’m surprised they’re not charging him with tax offenses as well (failure to pay the appropriate gift tax). Might have something to do with the unnamed party.

    It’s also rather pathetic that Hastert apparently didn’t realize the law existed, and then thought that he could just go ahead and try to evade it like this and not get questioned about it. When income is taxed, you are not going to be able to transfer that much money without the government investigating it.

    I really doubt the prosecution is politically motivated (the publicity, maybe, but federal prosecutors are fond of perp walks regardless). Hastert’s conduct is mind-numbingly stupid, even if the conduct he was trying to keep hidden was just embarrasing rather than illegal (say a gift to a bastard child out of guilt). I’m actually inclined to think it was something like that, although the money feels rather high, because no professionally corrupt politician would ever handle this kind of situation this badly. The money would just have been passed legally through some intermediary (cough – inton Founda – cough). This actually seems more like a relatively honest politician with something in his past he felt guilty for but didn’t feel like he could do anything about while in office. Once he retired and started making significant money lobbying, he then tried to make up for it, but clumsily.

  8. Grurray – the most straightforward crime involving cash payments is tax evasion. If you give someone $50,000, that is almost certainly taxable in some way – either it’s a gift, and subject to gift taxes or at least counted against your lifetime exemption, or it’s income for the recipient and they should be paying taxes on it. Income taxes are due even on extortion payments (although the expense accounting might be interesting…). One of the major signs of tax evasion is a lot of personal property purchased for less than $10k in cash.

    It really makes no difference why Hastert was giving the money. Cash is suspect because it can be kept private, and privacy about financial matters cannot be permitted when income is taxed.

  9. “Cash is suspect because it can be kept private, and privacy about financial matters cannot be permitted when income is taxed.”

    This is a troubling aspect of the law. Any transactions below $10k regardless of intent could trigger a secret investigation and possibly prosecution just by the judgement of your bank. Another reason to distrust the banking system.

  10. I wondered whether it was (i) just intimidation of Republicans, or (ii) an announcement that celebrations of gayness do not extend to Republicans.

  11. “His long record in Congress involved, among many things, denying equal rights to people based on the “Family Values” tripe,”

    That sounds like it could be something juicy although Hastert never struck me as smart. He has a reputation of getting his kids in big money, similar to Harry Reid’s behavior in Nevada.

  12. Greenwald, who I am not a big fan of, does make some very valid points about over-criminalization. And we MUST be fair to Hastert by being careful about making the kind of assumptions….. that I am about to allude to. (Oh, yes, just love that Internet.)

    But while I have heard the “love-child” theory bandied about, to quote a Seinfeld line by Kathy Griffin – “I workshopped that and…. snoozers!” C’mon, no one’s going to care to the tune 3.5 million about a “love-child”. Hello, 1955 called, and said “nice to see you again”.

    No, as has been noted elsewhere this is ‘keeping my butt out of jail and/or my entire life being laid waste to’ money. And we can look at the teacher/coaching job(s) that Hastert was holding when this “Person A” became a factor and start considering conclusions from there. I shall say no more on that…. I presume details will leak out as this proceeds.

    So I do think that ALL who are pulling the levers in this case may be responding to that reality as much as anything. But setting Hastert aside, and while Greenwald’s pounding away on the Patriot Act does smack of his own ideological sentiments, the case against over-criminalization is valid, is real, and is about a profoundly destructive and anti-democratic and anti-liberty reality of our nation today.

  13. I for one, am quite relieved to see that this has come to the light of day. That, and the long-anticipated FIFA indictments. No justice, no peace!

  14. Ba da bim! sez LA Times.

    Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.

    One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said……

  15. Will Terry Bean and the Harvey Milk Brigade reach across the aisle to come to the defense of Big Denny in his time of need? ChickenHawks start a gofundme? A reading before the justices from the Allen Ginsburg Project?

  16. It seems I’m coming at this from a different angle than everyone else. My apologies for smearing crazy upon this fine website.

    Hastert was such a political nullity that the democrats never even bothered to attack him until just before the 2006 election, when they blamed him for the Foley kerfluffle, and then only when the GOP was plainly going to lose control of the House, thus making him irrelevant. Compare and contrast that with the treatment given to effective Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay- i. e., attack until destroyed, using any means necessary.

    Having become a paranoid old man, I wonder just who else knew about Hastert’s past. Surely someone in the democrat party did oppo research on Hastert, and I see no reason why that research would have been limited to a google search. I recall that that the highly regarded former solicitor general Ken Starr got a rather thorough background investigation from the Clinton machine, followed up with a nasty smear campaign.

    Why would the incoming Speaker of the House be spared the same? Maybe he wasn’t, and maybe he learned to keep his mouth shut, and do what he was told- unless he wanted somebody from his past to go to the press…

    Pure speculation on my part, obviously. But this story makes me wonder just what may be hanging over the head of Republicans like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who continually stab the base of the GOP in the back seemingly for no reason at all.

    Did I mention that I have become a paranoid old man?

  17. Xennedy,

    I still say Hastert bears primary responsibility for railroading the 2004 Illinois GOP candidate with a trumped up sex scandal, which paved the way for Barack Obama to waltz right into the Senate.

    We may never get the full details of this mess since it looks like the US Attorney’s indictment is designed to force Hastert to accept a plea in order to avoid trial. It’s plausible somebody may have known something, considering the incorpation of gay communities and social circles into the Chicago Machine over the past few decades.

    One way or the other Hastert was a disaster for the party and the country, and he’s still inflicting damage.

  18. Hastert gets no sympathy from me, even if he is innocent of a crime in this instance; because he is/was such a worthless putz.

    That said, I definitely see a political motivation.

    Can you conceive of an active or retired Democrat ever being subjected to similar charges by the current regime?

    And is this not a shot across the bow that the Federal government is watching all the bank accounts of any non-Democrats in some detail?

    Enforcement of the law in this country is now essentially a political act. If you are subject to the “Connected Persons Clause” of modern jurisprudence, you cannot be prosecuted for anything. q.v. anyone named Clinton.

  19. “you are pretty obviously guility of evading the reporting requirements”

    In other words, he is guilty of obeying the law.

  20. “denying equal rights to people”

    I thought denying equal rights to people was the purpose of congress and the courts. Otherwise we’d have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and the right to bear arms. Notice that all these freedoms are restrictions on the government which tirelessly seeks to evade them.

  21. The New York state attorney general was nailed for the same law reporting requirement violation while paying off prostitutes.

    That he was going after Goldman Saks for financial insider trading at the time had nothing to do with it.

    A network made a TV series based on his wife out of the “scandal.”

  22. So Hastert who has loyally served his master a mole in the Republican party all these years can serve his homosexual-pedophile masters one more time by being exposed as a Republican hypocrite to further demoralise opposition to his masters’ agenda.

  23. But this story makes me wonder just what may be hanging over the head of Republicans like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who continually stab the base of the GOP in the back seemingly for no reason at all.

    You know, this does not seem totally silly to me but then I am also a paranoid old man.

  24. Gurray,

    I’ve always figured that Barry and his Illinois democrat pals were to blame for that, as a potential democrat primary challenger had also been forced out due to leaked records. But if Hastert was involved then I’ve been informed of yet another reason to dislike him.

    Subotai B.,

    As usual you’re spot on, and I can’t really add anything to your comment. However, I will note that what really peeves me at this point is the sheer, utter worthlessness of the GOP establishment, on multiple levels. Given Hastert’s apparent extracurricular activities he never should have managed to get where he got, for multiple reasons. That he did says nothing good about the GOP, period.


    One of the gobsmacking things about the Foley scandal for me was the time I heard a radio announcer say during a top-of-the-hour newsclip that Foley had “skirted breaking the law.” I was astonished then and I remain so today, because if you skirt breaking the law you are not breaking the law. But as Subotai has so aptly noted Foley fell on the wrong side of the political divide, so whether or not he followed the law was of thin relevance.

    Trent Telenko- and Mike K too,

    I’ve become rather amazed at just how often I see examples of behavior that don’t make sense in a society governed by the rule of law but make perfect sense in a society that isn’t.

    For example, the sudden prosecution of Senator Robert Menendez just after he came out against Barry’s Iran deal. How Bob Livingston resigned from the House instead of becoming Speaker once he was outed as having had an affair- did he refuse to play ball, choosing resignation instead? Or did an insider leak to a friendly reporter, who told their friends- until it became a national story, forcing Livingston to go? Senator Kelly Ayotte, who opposed amnesty until her election- then suddenly discovered that, yes, we need “comprehensive” reform after all.

    Gosh. Having become paranoid and distrustful in my old age, I wonder if one reason why the government is so intensely interested in domestic spying is so they can keep on tap potential blackmail material to be used against any nasty Tea Party person- or any person- who actual manages to win election- but won’t do what the establishment wants.

    Like Kelly Ayotte, for example. Yet more baseless speculation from me, as I have no real reason to pay attention to Senator Ayotte, or any evidence against her.

    I’m just a paranoid old man, is all.

  25. Phwest,

    Reading the indictment, Hastert is pretty obviously guilty of the charges. When you’ve been withdrawing cash at $50k a pop for a couple of years, get asked about it by the bank and then start withdrawing at the same rate but at less than $10k a pop you are pretty obviously guility of evading the reporting requirements.

    No concern from you that the reporting requirements are a complete and utter tyranny that should have no place in a free society?

    Cash is suspect because it can be kept private, and privacy about financial matters cannot be permitted when income is taxed.

    More tyranny.

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