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Hastert, the Untold Story

As if the Mark Foley page scandal hadn't done enough damage to Republicans. Now we discover that legal bills arising from the tawdry affair landed former Speaker Dennis Hastert in hot water with the Federal Election Commission before he left town.

According to FEC documents, Hastert last January initially failed to disclose that legal fees had wiped out the final bit of cash he had in his campaign account. The Illinois Republican and former high school wrestling coach filed an amended finance report in February showing that his '06 campaign had racked up $147,000 in legal expenses in connection with the Foley investigation. In order to avoid substantial fines (and further debt), Hastert quietly agreed last summer to shut down his campaign and pay a $1,000 penalty, the FEC documents show.

When he publicly announced on August 17 that he wouldn't be seeking re-election, Hastert didn't mention his campaign's legal debt from the Foley scandal, or the settlement his lawyers were brokering with the FEC.

Last February 2, more than six months before he announced his intention not to seek re-election and nine months before he resigned, Hastert, through his lawyers, wrote a letter to the FEC explaining that his campaign had "incurred significant expenses late in the campaign which had not been anticipated. These included legal fees incurred for the representation of former Speaker Hastert in connection with the Foley investigation."

Hastert didn't break any rules, but his reputation was damaged in late 2006 when the House ethics committee found that his senior aides apparently covered up information about former congressman Foley (R-Fla.) hitting on teenage male House pages. Though FEC documents clearly show his campaign was bankrupt, thanks at least in part by the Foley scandal, Hastert's campaign lawyers say that had nothing to do with why he left office.

"It had zero impact on his decision," says GOP campaign finance attorney Stefan Passantino. He says Hastert already "had decided to retire. It was clearly in his interest to accept the consent order that was offered to us rather than to fight what we thought was an erroneous legal position."

The question Passantino couldn't answer is why Hastert, who made millions of dollars off land deals while he was in Congress (including some that raised ethical questions), didn't pay his legal bills out of his own pocket rather than putting his lawyers on the campaign payroll and having his contributors foot the bill.

It's worth nothing that as of Sept. 30, Hastert had just $1,557.86 remaining in his campaign coffers with more than $52,000 in outstanding debt -- including $11,000 in legal bills.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  January 2, 2008; 6:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

Another holier than thou, rule of law Republican slinking out of town as his hypocracy is exposed. That's right folks, it's the banality of evil..they aren't always Arabs, Jews, Hispanics, or whoever the Republicans are demonizing today as un-patriotic, terrorist-loving, gay friendly evil doers. They are, more often that good old boy, high school wrestling coach, preacher, wrapped in the flag patriot that you have to watch out for. Just think if the Republican-led Congress had spent time solving real problems instead of protecting America from consensual sex in the WH, Clinton may have caught Bin Ladin and we wouldn't be in such a mess. But no, Hastert and his Moral Crusaders were too busy hiding pedophiles and getting rich on land deals. What's the next distraction..illegal immigration?!

Posted by: Thebob.bob | January 2, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow--what a relief!! For a while it looked like there might have been a Repub impeacher who had a tiny little bit of personal honor. Thank goodness we know the truth now. What an incredibly slimey, reptilian group they were/are.

Posted by: JohnMcC | January 2, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Go get them, those damn republiocans.

We want to rule without them trying to tell us what to do.

We will disarm them so they could never bother us again, never use the 2nd to take b ack the country.

Posted by: smizgala | January 2, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Whats the matter are all the republican slush fund managers tapped out because of the Scooter Libby legal fund and the Gonzo legal fund or is there a quietly collected President and V.P. legal fund already in motion for the anticipated war crimes trials at future dates? Will the Bush 43 have a special wing for all the fun and games from all the "special prosecutors" that are going to be needed?

Posted by: mikey30919 | January 2, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

What's one more coverup for a staff that interrupted vote counting in Florida in 2000.

Good riddance to these people.

Posted by: Gentry | January 3, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

It would be great to see if some of this
iformation ever accomplish anything.As a life long democrat i have been sick and
discussed the ones we have in office dont
have the backbone to actually do anything
with any of this information.Nancy pelosi
should have been thrown out when she said
Impeachment was off the table.

Posted by: Carl Larsen | January 3, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

So he was taking in money from people that thought that they were supporting him only to have him use their money for other purposes?

Sounds about right.

What did he need a lawyer if he did nothing wrong. Was there a House ethics investigation into Hastert's involvement?

Maybe somebody (say an investigative reporter) ask his male roommate from DC what was going on???

Posted by: Shawn Fassett | January 3, 2008 1:41 AM | Report abuse

What about his hugely crooked land deal in Illinois? Vanished down the media's memory hole, like so much else?
My doctor says "Republican scandal fatigue."

Posted by: bB | January 3, 2008 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Is the GOP incapable of producing even one honest man?

Posted by: Helena Montana | January 3, 2008 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Sir: Nothing should surprise America any longer as to the GOP. Ironic, is it not, that so many "law and order" and "moralist" individuals have considered themselves above those very laws they chanpion and not tied to the moral principles they preach!?

Posted by: crafter48@netscape.com | January 3, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

keep wagging the dog bobbob

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

bB, this is not the place to talk about Barack Hussein Obama

Posted by: BO | January 3, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Hey BO! Show some facts that Obama had land deals or STFU!

Posted by: JustMe | January 3, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The only difference between liberals and conservatives or dems and repubs, if you will, are the rules and regulations they wish to impose on the rest of us.
Respect has gone the way of compassion.

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Posted by: jglvapoxb mvrw | February 1, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The question Passantino couldn't answer is why Hastert, who made millions of dollars off land deals while he was in Congress... didn't pay his legal bills out of his own pocket....

Duh...probably because he wanted to retire, so he didn't need a campaign fund balance. What a phony story. As if 150K would break anybody in Congress.

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