After feds announced indictments against ex-House speaker Dennis Hastert yesterday for illegally funneling $3.5 million to an unnamed person from his past as a high-school wrestling coach, an obvious question lingered: What was the cash for? For covering up male-on-male sexual abuse, naturellement.
So the L.A. Times reports, according to two unnamed federal officials involved in the case against Hastert—one of very few GOP House speakers, or speaker-aspirants, in a long stretch since the ’90s who hadn’t suffered a mistress-related scandal in office. Hastert retired from Congress in 2009 and has had a lucrative second life lobbying for big industries like ethanol.
In the realm of political payola scandals, $3.5 million is a lot of hush money, especially for a guy who’s out of public office and not especially high-profile in Beltway media circles these days. It seems a bit steep as a service charge to conceal your average vanilla marital infidelity, too; the Times report seems to imply that Hastert’s alleged misconduct is a little more flavorful than that:
One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.
“It goes back a long way, back to then,” the source said. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.” Thursday’s indictment described the misconduct “against Individual A” as having “occurred years earlier.”
Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.
Mind you, that’s a lot of anonymous sourcing, but it goes a long way toward explaining why prosecutors literally want to make a federal case out of the way Hastert withdrew his own money from personal accounts. And it adds color to some past reporting on Hastert’s tenure in Congress.
Hastert lost his leadership job in large part because of allegations he covered for Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who confessed a penchant for young male pages before resigning from office in disgrace in 2006. “The people who want to see this thing blow up,” Hastert reportedly complained of the media frenzy surrounding Foley, “are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by George Soros.” The following January, amid a voter wave of disgust with the GOP, Hastert handed his gavel over to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
There have also been dubious whisperings in the past that Hastert himself was a member of a closeted gay cadre on Capitol Hill. “Hastert’s penchant to receive anal sex is well-known to our sources in DC’s gay community,” reported professional conspiracy theorist and Infowars friend Wayne Madsen, as part of a long, lightly sourced, and somewhat mean-spirited 2006 frisking of Hastert’s private life. Madsen alleged, among other things, that:
Hastert, while working from 1964 to 1980 as a popular history/government teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School, in Yorkville, Illinois — a suburb of Chicago — was the subject of persistent rumors about inappropriate contact with male members of his high school wrestling team.
Elaborate as Madsen’s case against Hastert was, it was hampered by the author’s talent for “just mak[ing] shit up” and contradicted by other Hill sources, according to once and future Gawkerer Alex Pareene. But it’s probably getting scrutinized anew by journalists this week, after news of the indictment. And in light of this 2014 video of Hastert getting a “strange” call from “Bruce” in his hometown of Yorkville while live on C-SPAN:
Are you a YHS alum? An ex-Hill intern from those heady days? If you have any additional information that could illuminate Hastert’s current legal woes, or rumored past, share them with us. We’ll run down and publish the best ones. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
[Photo credit: AP Images]