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Friends, Ex-Colleagues of Hastert Shocked Over Indictments

Friends, Ex-Colleagues of Hastert Shocked Over Indictments
Ex-longtime House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (Jaques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 29 May 2015 08:45 PM

Friends and former colleagues of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, both in Washington, D.C., and Illinois, reacted with shock at federal indictments filed against Hastert, which could cost the widely respected politician and lobbyist 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Hastert, allegedly the victim of a blackmail scheme, is accused of lying to FBI investigators and illegally "structuring" over $950,000 in bank withdrawals between 2010 and 2014 to evade federal bank reporting regulations, Politico reports.

The money, federal prosecutors say, was part of $3.5 million in "hush money" to be paid to an unnamed person described as "Individual A" for unspecified "prior misconduct" against that person, said in the indictment to be a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, who has known Hastert for "most of Individual A's life."

The money was intended to "compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A," the indictment states. Subsequent reports say the misconduct was sexual and the money was paid to a man to keep quiet about abuse that occurred when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

“The Denny I served with worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country," current speaker John Boehner said in an email statement. "I'm shocked and saddened to learn of these reports."

Former Illinois Republican Gov. Jim Edgar told National Public Radio that his first reaction to the news of the indictment "is shock. I mean, Denny Hastert would be the last person I would think that would be indicted. I mean, I've always known him to be a person of highest integrity; you know, committed to the public welfare. I just, I'm shocked. I just find it hard to believe."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, told CNN, "It doesn't make any sense to me. It certainly seems very much out of character" and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, told CNN, "I think we're all surprised by this."

Hastert, 73, during his eight years as the longest-serving Republican House speaker, was known for his integrity and honesty, which only adds to the shock of the indictments.

Brad Goodrich, deputy executive director of the Illinois GOP, told USA Today, "There is not a breath of scandal associated with Denny."

Hastert, the indictment alleges, arranged the $3.5 million "hush money" agreement in meetings with "Individual A" in 2010, three years after leaving the House and obtaining employment with the Washington lobbyist firm of Dickstein Shapiro, a position he now has resigned, the Chicago Daily Herald reports.

Illinois State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, told the Daily Herald, "I think that we should still stick to the innocent-until-proven-guilty approach. He deserves that as much as anybody else does."

Longtime Hastert friend in Yorkville, Loren Miller, told the Daily Herald, "It's a shock to
me as much as anybody. He got his job because he didn't have any skeletons in his closet. I was one of his closest friends and got to do a lot of things, but nothing that wasn't on the level.

"I don't know the details, but I know what the man is made of, and I know that I will stand behind him."

John Feehery, Hastert's spokesman while he served as speaker of the House, told The New York Times, "It has come completely out of left field and is pretty shocking," and Pat Brady, one-time chair of the Illinois Republican Party, told the Times, "We’re all shocked. It’s been a total shock in the Land of Lincoln. No one had been hearing anything about this. Not a word."

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Friends and former colleagues of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, both in Washington, D.C., and Illinois, reacted with shock at federal indictments filed against Hastert.
Dennis Hastert, friends, shocked, indictments
Friday, 29 May 2015 08:45 PM
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