Dennis Hastert served as the House Speaker from 1999 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Republican to ever hold the position. During his tenure, Hastert courted his fair share of controversies, including a supposed secret relationship with Turkish officials and a questionable $207 million earmark that benefited property owned by him and his wife. Now, Hastert faces federal charges alleging that the former Speaker paid $3.5 million to an unknown person — an apparent blackmailer — to hide “prior misconduct.”
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The charges stem from Hastert’s duplicitous withdrawal of $952,000 in cash from his bank account, ensuring that each transaction remained below $10,000 as to not alert federal officials. Hastert also faces charges of lying to the FBI, most likely in regards to the nature of his long-term cash withdrawals.
According to the indictment, Hastert initially agreed to begin making payments for the so-called prior misconduct in 2010, when he met with the unnamed person in question. The court documents describe Hastert as making the payments “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct,” the details of which have yet to surface.
The indictment alleges that from 2010 to 2014, Hastert “withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts he controlled and provided it to Individual A,” and that from 2010 to 2012, Hastert “made fifteen $50,000 withdrawals of cash from bank accounts he controlled at Old Second Bank, People’s State Bank, and Castle Bank and provided that cash to Individual A approximately every six weeks.”
If Hastert is found guilty of both charges, he faces a maximum of ten years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Hastert will appear at an arraignment, the date of which has yet to be determined. The indictment was announced by the US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, since Hastert worked in Yorkville, Illinois, as a high school teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981.
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