Hastert Got What He Deserved

In a recent blog article by Matt Kaiser, the author argues that former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was wrongly sentenced at his recent hearing for hiding financial payouts as hush money ($3 Million in fact!).   When he was a wrestling coach and a high school teacher before he was a member of Congress, and then Speaker of the House, he touched kids he coached. They asked for money from him to keep quiet and he paid it. In the course of paying it, he structured the payments to avoid federal bank reporting laws.  Mr. Kaiser thinks the sentencing Judge asked and allowed evidence that was beyond what was appropriate at a sentencing hearing.  The author is correct – justice was not served – Hastert got off way too easy and deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Of course, there is a much broader backstory here.  As Eric Boehlert wrote a year ago,

During the 1990s, Hastert remained a firm advocate of impeachment, at one point condemning the president for his “inability to abide by the law.” Hastert stressed, “The evidence in President Clinton’s case is overwhelming that he has abused and violated the public trust.”

Of course it was the impeachment imbroglio that elevated Hastert, indirectly, to his lofty position of speaker of the House; a position he later leveraged into millions by becoming a very wealthy lobbyist.

The background: Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich was forced to resign in 1998 after the impeachment-obsessed GOP faced disastrous midterm losses. (Gingrich later admitted he was engaged in an affair with a Congressional aide at the time.) Up next was Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. “One of the loudest of those calling for the House to impeach Clinton over an extra-marital affair,” noted the National Journal, Livingston was soon ousted after he was forced to publicly confess to committing adultery “on occasion.”

Into that void stepped Hastert.

That means all three Republican House leaders who pursued Clinton’s impeachment have now confessed or been accused of sexual and moral transgressions themselves. Those were the people the D.C press took its cues from during the impeachment charade?

At sentencing, it is normal for additional information to be presented by both sides, which may or may not normally admissible at trial (on the issue of guilt).  The reasons that the money was paid in the first place, i.e., as hush money for child molestation, is certainly fair game in my opinion.  Sometimes the wheels of justice do not turn predictably, but in this case the ultimate result was just.

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