Although he left public office eight years ago, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is back in the headlines by way of a salacious scandal. As previously noted by Inquisitr, the once influential Republican Congressman was recently indicted on federal charges that he lied to investigators over a series of cash withdrawals which occurred over an extended period of time.
Initial reports suggested that the payments — totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million dollars — were "hush money" intended to conceal unspecified misconduct on Hastert's part. Now, some individuals are coming forward and speaking to the media regarding the nature of those allegations in detail.
According to the Chicago Tribune, two unnamed federal law officials have disclosed that Dennis Hastert's payments – made to an person known only as "Individual A" – were to conceal allegations that Hastert engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a male student when he worked as a teacher. Prior to his political career, Hastert worked as a teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 to 1981. The Tribune further indicates that one official has confirmed that the allegations involved "sexual abuse."
The New York Times notes that Hastert himself has denied that he was the victim of any kind of extortion plot. Nevertheless, court documents suggest that Hastert made the payments to a former acquaintance from Yorkville under some sort of duress. At present, it is unclear if prosecutors will pursue charges against anyone who may have been paid by Hastert to keep the scandal quiet.
Ironically, it was Hastert's actions in the midst of a Congressional sex scandal (or lack of action, to be more precise) which ultimately cost him his spot a Speaker of the House back in 2006. The Huffington Post recalls that Hastert and other prominent Republicans seemingly turned a blind eye to rumors that fellow Representative Mark Foley had engaged in sexting with male congressional pages. Following an ugly public scandal in which Hastert was criticized extensively over his handling of the situation, Republicans lost control of both branches of Congress following the 2006 elections. Hastert resigned from the House the following year.
Now 73-years-old, Dennis Hastert receives a number of pensions for his work in the public sector, including one for his time in the U.S. Congress that is estimated at totaling around $73,000 per year. The Chicago Tribune surmises that Hastert will likely keep his retirement money from his stint in Congress, as the present allegations did not occur during his time in office.
But even if Dennis Hastert keeps his congressional pension, he's still paying a high price as the present controversy festers. An Associated Press report indicates Haster has resigned from his position on the board of Christian educational institution Wheaton College. Hastert has also apparently resigned from his position with Washington lobbying firm Dickstein Shairo. But perhaps the biggest toll for Dennis Hastert will be the loss of respect by his friends, family, and peers in the wake of swirling rumors and charges.
Current House Speaker John Boehner, a longtime colleague of Hastert, commented publicly on the allegations earlier today, describing the married father of two as someone who "worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country." At the moment, it's difficult to imagine that Dennis Hastert's legacy will retain even a semblance of Boehner's flattering reminiscences in the long run.
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