Hastert Bribery Scandal Belies Troubling Question: Coach turned Politician turned Lobbyist has Millions in bank?

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It’s the question everyone started to ask once the news that former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert was in the process of paying out millions in hush money” to a former male student claiming he “sexually molested him decades ago”: Where in the heck did a former High School wrestling coach turned Congressman turned Speaker of the House come up with “over $3.5 million” to spare ($1.7 million of which had already been paid), just sitting in the bank with enough left over that he could pay out that kind of cash without conspicuously impacting his standard of living?

Congress has been reluctant to pass significant legislation banning outgoing politicians from “cashing in” by becoming K-Street lobbyists after they leave office. Why is that a bad thing? Because a Congressperson with the intent of becoming a lobbyist may push legislation favorable to the people they hope to land a lobbying job with once they leave office… or worse, a corporation might promise a lucrative job in exchange for favorable legislation. The road from First Ave (Congress) to K Street may be few minutes by car, but that’s nothing compared to the express lane between the Capitol Building and plush leather chair in some lobbying firm. And Denny Hastert didn’t rake in millions for his ability to make a persuasive argument:
 

Hastert: “Middle-Class probably won’t get a tax cut”, but millionaires who will barely notice the extra dough, will. So vote for it!

I’m still trying to figure out Hastert’s line of reasoning here: If you make $40K a year, you won’t get a tax cut because you “probably don’t pay taxes anyway”. But you should support this budget-busting bill to give a $40K tax break for millionaires that’ll barely notice it anyway?
 

“Where are those 20,000 tons of Yellowcake, Mr. Speaker?” – Hastert on Fox “news” Sunday claiming the
uranium President Bush said Saddam bought in Africa is indeed there, in barrels, just waiting to be found.
(July 20, 2003)

 

But probably only about half of Denny’s millions were made lobbying after leaving office. The bulk of his wealth he made while still serving as Speaker of the House.

Now, this is by no means primarily a Republican failing, nor am I suggesting Conservatives are more likely to cash-in. Actually, the K-Street revolving door spins both ways fairly equally. But I’m not here to rant about the scourge of lobbying. What I want to know just how a former High School coach makes SO much money he can afford to pay out MILLIONS without his family/friends noticing?

Hastert entered Congress in 1998 with a net worth of about a quarter million dollars. As a Congressman in 2000, his annual salary was just over $161,000/year. Nothing to sneeze at, but definitely not enough to turn someone into a multi-millionaire just six years later. As Rachel Maddow pointed out last Thursday, one of Denny’s most lucrative deals took place while he was still speaker: earmarking a highway interchange that went directly through land that he just happened to own. By the time he left office in 2007, Hastert was worth between $4 million and $17 million dollars from “various” sources.

Upon leaving Congress, Hastert first started his own “Consulting” (read: lobbying) firm as well as worked as a lobbyist for others firms on behalf of Big Tobacco, earning him a few million more. But it was those land deals he made while in charge of the U.S. Congress that stuffed his piggy bank.

Revelations of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s marital affair while condemning President Clinton for his own, led to Newt’s ouster. The man picked to replace him, Bob Livingston, was forced to turn down the job upon revelations that he too had been caught cheating on his wife (BTW, Clinton’s chief critic in the Senate, Henry Hyde, was also found to be having an extra-martial affair at the time.) Hastert was picked to replace them because he was deemed “Mr. Clean” (whom now it appears was the dirtiest of them all.) This is your “Family Values”, obsessed with “Traditional Marriage” Party, folks.

We have a serious problem in this country when Members of Congress can legally cash-in on their jobs like this. Molesting a child and paying millions to cover it up may make the evening news, but the ability of members of Congress to “legally” use their jobs for lucrative personal gain should be every bit as controversial a story.
 


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June 1, 2015 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, mystery, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Scandals