Former Republican U.S. House Speaker and current lobbyist Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who presided over the lower branch of government for eight years from 1999 to 2007, has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a scheme in which Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a former acquaintance that he wronged for some reason:
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges alleging he agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance blackmailing him, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors said.
The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.
Hastert, 73, of Plano, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be arraigned later at U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.
The full indictment is available here.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hastert, I’ll provide a bit of a refresher about who Hastert is. Hastert is a longtime member of the same Republican old boys network here in Illinois that has produced the likes of George Ryan of licenses-for-bribes infamy. During his tenure in the House, Hastert was a big supporter of pork-barrel spending projects (example of that here), especially if they benefited Northern Illinois and not other areas of Illinois and the rest of the country. As House Speaker, Hastert allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from Turkish people that federal authorities were wiretapping. After Hastert left Congress, Hastert received a $35,000/month contract to lobby on behalf of Turkey.
However, Hastert isn’t being indicted over pork-barrel spending or his corrupt ties to Turkish interests. Instead, he’s being indicted for trying to evade federal currency transaction reports, which the federal government requires financial institutions in this country to file for any deposit, withdrawal, or other type of monetary transaction of more than $10,000. Hastert has also been indicted on a related charge of lying to the FBI about his scheme to pay millions of dollars in hush money to someone, whose identity was not revealed in the indictment for legal/privacy reasons, who he wronged. Although not confirmed, some sources are reporting that the charges may stem from actions that Hastert took when he was a high school teacher before entering electoral politics.
Just like his right-wing political cronies George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Hastert blatantly violated federal laws. However, unlike Bush and Cheney, Hastert might actually have to serve time in prison for his crimes.