Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who led the lower chamber during the majority of the George W. Bush administration, was indicted today on federal charges:
A federal indictment released this afternoon accuses the Plano Republican of disguising the withdrawal of nearly $1 million from various financial accounts to avoid federal disclosure requirements, and of lying to the FBI about the matter.
The federal charges allege that the money was part of $3.5 million that Hastert was paying an unnamed “Individual A” in order “to compensate for an conceal his prior misconduct” against that individual.
Fuller details about exactly why Hastert would be paying someone $3.5 million were not immediately available. But the indictment strongly suggests Hastert needed the money because he was being blackmailed.
“In or about 2010, Individual A met with (Hastert) multiple times. During at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier,” the indictment states. “Shortly thereafter, defendant began providing Individual A cash payments.”
…According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to pay the money beginning in 2010. From 2010 to 2014 he allegedly withdrew $1.7 million in cash from various accounts. Eventually, according to a statement from the Department of Justice, “Hastert started structuring his cash withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade” required disclosure of withdrawals in excess of $10,000. When questioned by the FBI about the matter, he “falsely stated that he was keeping the cash.”
Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach before being elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980. He won his U.S. House seat in 1986 and succeeded Newt Gingrich as speaker in 1999.
Now 73, Hastert works as a lobbyist, including representing the interests of the government of Turkey.