Saturday, May 30, 2015

In nationwide revulsion of Republicans in 2006 Dennis Hastert was swept out of office and proceeded directly to K Street. No one rejects calls from a former House Speaker. Hastert has resigned from board of Chicago Mercantile Exchange and leadership role at lobbyist Dickstein Shapiro-NY Times, Chicago Tribune

5/30/15, "After Speakership, Hastert Amassed His Millions Lobbying Former Colleagues," NY Times, Jonathan Weisman (5/31 NY print ed. p. A14)

"J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, was swept from leadership in 2006 on a wave of Republican revulsion over what critics saw as a legislative favor factory he presided over in Congress. That wave deposited him on K Street, a prime address for the capital’s lobbyists, where his influence and good name kept the favors flowing — including into his bank accounts.

Federal law enforcement agents say Mr. Hastert’s years as a lobbyist and rainmaker explain how he was able to promise $3.5 million in cash to a former student who claims Mr. Hastert sexually molested him decades ago.

A former wrestling coach and high school teacher, Mr. Hastert did not enter Congress rich. Yet he was still was able to amass a small fortune with land deals, one aided by an earmark he secured for a highway interchange.

But it was at his own post-Congress lobbying firm and at the professional services firm Dickstein Shapiro that Mr. Hastert swelled his cash flow, working all sides of issues and glad-handing members of Congress for controversial clients.

That he stands accused of child molestation is almost universally a shock in Washington —a gut blow,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and a longtime friend of Mr. Hastert’s. That he had the money, however, is not so startling in the gilded era of Washington lobbying.

“I’m not surprised he was very successful,” Mr. Cole said. “People less significant in Congress than Speaker Hastert have done exceptionally well afterwards.”

From 2011 to 2014, Lorillard Tobacco paid Dickstein Shapiro nearly $8 million to lobby for the benefit of candy-flavored tobacco and electronic cigarettes, and Mr. Hastert was the most prominent member of the lobbying team.

He pressed lawmakers on climate change for Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, in 2013 and 2014, then switched sides this year and pushed for requiring renewable fuel production for Fuels America. LightSquared, once an ambitious wireless venture, paid his firm $200,000 in the second half of 2011 to watch legislation in Congress on global positioning satellites. Months later, the company fell into bankruptcy after regulators decided its technology would interfere with GPS.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, labeled Mr. Hastert “the eclectic lobbyist.” Some former lawmakers “choose lobbying positions that allow them to focus on certain policy areas, like energy,” the group said after Mr. Hastert’s indictment on charges of bank fraud and lying to the F.B.I. “A look at the clients that used the firm and his services for multiple years from 2009 to 2015 indicates no particular area of specialty.”

There is one common thread: an emphasis on his specialty in Congress, appropriations bills.

For CenterPoint Properties, a large Illinois developer, his team worked on placing a major transportation facility for the Army Reserve. For FirstLine Transportation Security, which screens security guards, he pressed for congressional review of procurement at the Transportation Security Administration, one of the firm’s biggest partners. For the American College of Rheumatology, his focus was the annual labor and health spending bill.
The Hastert era in the House may be remembered for rancorous debates on the war in Iraq, passage of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare and approval of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts. But for many Republicans, it was known for loose reins on spending and the extensive use of earmarks, legislation that directed tax dollars to home-district projects.

Mr. Hastert resigned his speakership after the Democratic landslide in 2006 cost Republicans control of the House and Senate, largely as a result of anti-Bush fervor over the Iraq war. But his legacy was largely swept under the Republican rug amid the widespread belief in conservative circles that Mr. Hastert’s tenure had been marred by big spending.

“There was this pent-up demand for public works, and they kind of went crazy,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury official whose book, “Impostor,” accused Mr. Bush of profligacy.

Mr. Hastert “was a hands-off guy,” he said. He was picked because he didn’t do anything” as speaker to control Mr. Bush’s spending.

The military spending bill for the 2000 fiscal year contained 997 earmarks. By 2005, that number had grown to 2,506. In 2000, the largest domestic spending bill, which funded labor, health and education programs, had 491 pet projects. By 2005, it had 3,014.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, recalled 2005 as the “perfect storm” of the profligate era, with 15,000 earmarks in appropriations bills; the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, which became a symbol of the need for changes to the system; the conviction of Representative Randy Cunningham on corruption charges for his selling of earmarks; and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

One of those earmarks was Mr. Hastert’s. The speaker secured $207 million in the highway law for construction of the proposed Prairie Parkway near 727 acres of farmland in Kendall County, Ill. The Hasterts, through an obscure land trust, owned 69 acres of that tract and a quarter share of 69 other acres. Four months after Mr. Bush signed the earmark into law, the trust sold the land for $4.9 million to a developer eyeing a 1,600-home project off the new highway. Mr. Hastert netted millions, the watchdog Sunlight Foundation discovered.

Lawmakers and fellow lobbyists compared Mr. Hastert’s qualities as a lobbyist to those he displayed as speaker: affable and low key, but attractive to clients. In the post-earmark world, said Mr. Cole, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr. Hastert pressed for policy “riders” in appropriations bills and programmatic changes that broadly helped his clients’ sectors.

“As you’d expect, he was very effective,” Mr. Cole said. “Number one, he knew the process extremely well, and he knew all the players. When the former speaker calls, no member rejects it. With a salary of probably $1 million, compensation for serving on boards of directors, speaker’s fees and a book deal, the money was there to pay in cash what law enforcement officials say Mr. Hastert paid, said former Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican who led the Appropriations Committee.

“Yeah, it’s possible he could amass in a 10-year period a nest egg of $5 to $10 million,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s not that hard.”"



Image caption: "In this Oct. 25, 1975 photo, taken from a newspaper page, Yorkville, Illinois, high school wrestling coach and former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, top left, and Illinois State University wrestling coach Larry Meyer, top right, watch as University High School coach George Girardi, bottom left, demonstrates a move on Yorkville assistant Tony Houle at a technical wrestling clinic in Bloomington, Illinois. AP" 5/30/15, "Source: Ex-US speaker paid to conceal claims of sexual abuse," AP


Hastert has resigned from the board of directors at the Chicago-based futures exchange operator CME Group, a spokesman said.... Dickstein Shapiro also confirmed that Hastert had resigned his position. "Hastert's bio was taken down from the company's website Thursday afternoon."
5/28/15, "Ex-Speaker Hastert charged with lying to FBI about hush money withdrawals," Chicago Tribune, Jason Meisner 

"Hastert was House speaker for eight years and has been working as a consultant and Washington lobbyist since stepping down from office in 2007.

The bombshell charges had immediate fallout for Hastert. On the same day the indictment was announced, Hastert resigned from the board of directors at the Chicago-based futures exchange operator CME Group, a spokesman said.

Later Thursday, a spokesman at the Washington lobbying firm where Hastert had been working, Dickstein Shapiro, confirmed that Hastert had resigned his position as co-leader of the firm's public policy and political law practice.

Hastert's bio was taken down from the company's website Thursday afternoon.

A woman who answered the phone Thursday at the former congressman's Yorkville consulting business, Hastert and Associates, said Hastert told her to refer questions to Dickstein Shapiro.

According to the seven-page indictment, Individual A met multiple times in 2010 with Hastert but brought up the allegations of past misconduct during at least one of the meetings. During that discussion and later meetings, Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to Individual A to conceal the wrongdoing, the indictment alleged....

The longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, Hastert was elected to the U.S. House in 1986 after serving three terms in the Illinois legislature. Hastert was dogged by scandal near the end of his term as speaker over the response of Republican leadership to improper advances toward underage male pages by then-Rep. Mark Foley of Florida
In 2006, the House Ethics Committee found that Hastert and other leaders were "willfully ignorant" in responding to early warnings of the scandal but did not violate any House rules.

The Tribune previously reported that although the panel did not reprimand or otherwise sanction Hastert, it cast doubt on Hastert's public insistence that he was unaware of a complaint about inappropriate email messages Foley sent to a former page in 2005.

Controversy also followed Hastert after he left the speaker's office. A Tribune investigation in 2012 found that Hastert had conducted private business ventures through a taxpayer-financed office."...

Bank withdrawals from 2010 to 2014 were then provided to Individual A. Hastert was picked as Speaker after first choice Rep. Bob Livingston resigned following admission of sexual indiscretions:

5/29/15, "Ex-US House speaker's indictment offers few clues about case," AP, Michael Tarm

"Hastert, who has not been arrested, was a little-known lawmaker from suburban Chicago when chosen to succeed conservative Newt Gingrich as speaker. Hastert was picked after favored Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston resigned following his admission of several sexual affairs....

A statement from the U.S. attorney's office announcing the indictment said Hastert will be ordered to appear for arraignment. The date was not immediately set.

The indictment alleges Hastert withdrew a total of $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts from 2010 to 2014, then provided the money to Individual A.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to the payments after multiple meetings in 2010. It says that "during at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier" and Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to keep it quiet. The indictment suggests he never paid the full amount."

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