National Review: How Did Denny Hastert Get Rich Enough to Pay Millions to an Accuser?

Dennis Hastert
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

From John Fund writing at National Review:

Denny Hastert — the former House speaker now indicted for violating regulations on bank withdrawals that were originally meant to snare drug dealers — was a man of integrity according to his former House colleagues.

By the sketchy standards of Illinois politics, that might well have been true. But his fall from grace should prompt other questions about how a former high-school teacher who held elective office from 1981 to 2007 could leave Congress with a fortune estimated at $4 million to $17 million. When he entered Congress in 1987, he was worth at most $275,000. Hastert was the beneficiary of very lucky land deals while in Congress; and since leaving office, he has earned more than $2 million a year as a lobbyist. That helps explain how he could agree to pay $3.5 million to a former student to cover up an ancient sex-abuse scandal.

Denny Hastert used to visit the Wall Street Journal, where I worked while he was the speaker. He was a bland, utterly conventional supporter of the status quo; his idea of reform was to squelch anyone who disturbed Congress’s usual way of doing business. I saw him become passionate only once, when he defended earmarks — the special projects such as Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” that members dropped at the last minute into conference reports, deliberately leaving no time to debate or amend them. Earmarks reached the staggering level of 15,000 in 2005, and their stench helped cost the GOP control of Congress the next year.

Read the rest of the story at National Review.