Indictment Of Former House Speaker Exposes Deep Rot In D.C.

Robert Menendez isn’t the only prominent politician engaged in corruption as word broke last night that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted by Federal officials for lying to the FBI about a $3.5 million payment to an undisclosed subject in order to “cover up past misconduct.”

The allegations were unsealed in the District Court of Northern Illinois late Thursday.

AS ever in D.C. there is already a cover-up, as the indictment does not explain what the “past misconduct” is or what actually happened, other than saying that Hastert made large withdrawals after agreeing to pay the money.

From what we can tell it seems like it is a case of bribery, pure and simple.

The indictment paints a murky picture of money flowing back and forth between the former Speaker and the unidentified subject, with payments to the Speaker’s benefit totaling about $1.7 million beginning in 2010 and ending in 2014.

That’s more money than the average American will see in a lifetime and speaks to the flagrant attitude in Washington towards bribery, influence peddling and the outright selling of votes.

Hastert, 73, isn’t just some low level first-term politician – he served as House speaker from 1999 until 2007, when Democrats retook the House!

His misconduct shows just how deeply the culture of graft and corruption permeates our nation’s political system. After all, if its rotten at the top its more than likely rotten to the core – top to bottom.

Politicians, predictably, feigned shock at the allegations, with Sen. Ben Cardin saying “I think we’re all surprised by this.”

It’s saddening to think just how much damage the corruption of Hastert, and most of our politicians in office, does to our country. Hastert served in the Illinois House of Representatives until 1986, was then elected to Illinois’ 14th congressional district and in 1999 was elected speaker of the House. He was the longest serving Republican speaker in history.

So imagine what kind of dirty dealings he did during that long tenure. The FBI reports are likely just the tip of the iceberg and were business as usual for the highly-influential official.

But it gets better – in 2008 he joined the Washington lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro as a senior adviser.

I short, Hastert has made a career out of selling our democracy to the highest bidder. How many others like him lurk in D.C.? Our guess – it’d be easier to count those not on the take.