Thursday, May 28, 2015

EXTRA: Could Hastert make a trio of people convicted post-politically?

Politically-aware people got their shock Thursday when federal prosecutors let it be known that former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert now faces criminal charges.

HASTERT: Not in line for peaceful retirement
If he winds up cutting a plea deal, or going to trial and being found guilty, the “Hastert” name will wind up going on the list many people rattle off of Illinois political officials who ended up with criminal records.

ALTHOUGH IT SHOULD be noted that the indictment, which is written in legalese meant to be even more vague than usual as to what exactly the wrongdoing was, indicates the alleged illegal activity took place AFTER Hastert retired from political office.

It also seems to indicate the actions that inspired the allegedly illegal activity may have took place back before Hastert became a government official. Back in the days when he was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville – which used to be much more rural in character than the over-glorified Chicago suburb it has become.

Does this mean that Hastert was not a corrupt politician of any type? That he operated honestly in government, but did improper things in his life before and after his public service?

I’m hearing some sleazy stories about what that activity could have been, but I don’t quite trust the people I’m hearing from. I suspect they’re too eager to make this worse than it really is, and are hoping that some reporter-type will be too eager for a salacious story rather than what really happened.

SO ALL I have to go by is the indictment, which says that back in 2010, Hastert met with someone he has known for many years, “discussed past misconduct… that had occurred years earlier,” and then began making payments to the person.

WALKER: Technically NOT a corrupt pol
Hastert faces charges of structuring currency transactions to evade reports, along with making false statements to the FBI, because the indictment says the former speaker deliberately made bank withdrawals of under $10,000 – the amount at which banks are required to inform the government!

Some $952,000 was withdrawn in such a manner, and some $1.7 million was paid by the congressman (it was supposed to be $3.5 million in total), according to investigators. It seems like someone was blackmailing the former House speaker, but we don’t quite know yet what for.

Like I already wrote, it seems this was outside of his government activity. Which makes me think he belongs in a category with people like former Gov. Dan Walker and former 10th Ward Alderman Edward R. Vrdolyak.

Vrdolyak also prosecuted after his era
VRDOLYAK was long out of the City Council and was reduced to the level of being a political consultant in select suburbs when he was prosecuted and wound up serving a 10-month prison term for supposedly handling real estate transactions and receiving part of the sales price as his fee.

While Walker, who popped back into our public consciousness when he died earlier this month, was prosecuted a decade after he left office. He became a business executive found guilty of bank fraud for trying to cut corners in the way he tried to accumulate personal wealth.

Of course, we think of them as “corrupt” politicians and play up the stories of their legal predicaments because that adds a jolt of “juice” to their tales.

That could become the same for Hastert – who had quite a stint in Congress and was one of only three Illinoisans ever to rise through the ranks to become House speaker back in the days of George W. Bush as president.

SINCE I DOUBT we’d care one bit if an ordinary schmoe were to make payments to try to cover up something that may have happened three or more decades earlier.

How many of us have actions from our younger days that we wish we hadn’t done, and where our initial reaction to being confronted with the past might be to try to cover things up?


No comments: