The former Republican Speaker of the House from the late Clinton and early Bush years, Dennis Hastert, was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on unspecified banking fraud charges — which have just been revealed:
Hastert was caught evading rules governing withdrawals of cash in amounts exceeding $10,000. The money was used to pay $3.5 million in hush money to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct with a male from his hometown. At the time, Hastert was a high school wrestling coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois; it has now been confirmed that it was with a student.
It seems like a week can’t go by without a famous Republican getting exposed for his past crimes. The indictments have caused Hastert to step down from his role on the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College, one of the nation’s biggest evangelical schools. The Associated Press reported that “He is an evangelical Christian who opposes abortion…as conservative as any leader in the Republican Party has got to be to be elected to leadership.” Hastert voted against the Sexual Orientation Employment Nondiscrimination Act, for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, for the Defense Against Marriage Act, and numerous other anti-gay legislation. Hastert, one of the most prominent pro-family values Republican politicians of the late 90s and early 2000s, has been outed as another right-wing hypocrite.
Not only is he guilty of sexual misconduct, it has also come to light that Hastert, one of the leading Republicans against narcotics treatment and needle exchange programs, was caught receiving bribes of heroin money from Turkish drug dealers. A FBI translator and whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, reported that “she [heard] Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with a very senior politician indeed–Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information.” Hastert recieved an additional $500,000 in bribes from the Turkish government in exchange for political favors regarding blocking bills recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
The sheer breadth of his criminal activities and the utter hypocrisy is all we’ve come to expect from Republican politicians these days. It reveals that this way of doing politics extends back decades, and that corruption is deeply entrenched in the GOP’s culture. The astonishing disregard that Republicans show for the consequences of their actions is very alarming; they traipse through life behaving as they wish, throwing money to hide their crimes and selling their votes to the highest bidder. It’s a cancer on our democracy and it’s about time men like Hastert were brought to justice.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.