Why Was Dennis Hastert Indicted? The Ex-House Speaker Has Some Pretty Serious Charges Leveled Against Him
Here's a bit of House of Cards-esque bit of political news: former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday for lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he allegedly paid out in hush money to an unknown individual. But unlike in the world of Frank Underwood, we might never find out exactly who Hastert was shelling out major bucks to or what he was trying to keep quiet. But the indictment does give us a few juicy details.
Hastert, who from 1999 to 2007 was second in line for the presidency, was indicted for skirting bank regulations by withdrawing $925,000 in small increments so he could avoid reporting it. Hastert was also charged for lying to the FBI about why he took out the withdrawals. He has not responded to a request for comment.
So there are the nuts and bolts, but the document has other details that paint a murky picture of what happened. According to the indictment, a person only identified as "Individual A" approached Hastert in 2010, bringing up "past misconduct" against the unnamed person. Allegedly, Hastert agreed to pay Individual A $3.5 million "to compensate for and conceal" the incident, according to the document.
See? I told you this was some Frank Underwood shit. But it gets even better.
The indictment noted two curious facts — Individual A, a Yorkville, Illinois resident, had known Hastert for most of his or her life. It was also noted that Hastert, a life-long resident of the same town, was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981.
That's where the allegations end. But you can imagine — and perhaps can't help but imagine — what could fill the missing gaps. Whatever it is, federal prosecutors are saying that Hastert thought it was worth $3.5 million to keep under wraps.
And will we ever find out what happened? It depends on what Hastert was allegedly covering. He has been out of office since 2007, and amid the indictment he resigned from the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro LLC, where he had worked since he left Congress. So unless he was planning on coming out of political retirement, there isn't a real reason for him to come clean about what happened... or what didn't. He doesn't need the public to like or even trust him anymore.
Hastert and anyone else involved with the case seem to be keeping tight-lipped in the wake of the indictment. He has yet to make any public comment, but he denied indictment rumors to POLITICO last week.
When the reporter told him he was about to be indicted, Hastert responded, "Well, it’s not true. I'm not speaking to you right now, thanks."
For now, all we know is that a prominent Republican and otherwise relatively clean politician is leaving the door open for speculation. Wide open.
Images: Getty Images (1)