Denny We Hardly Knew Yah!

colossal failureThe day after New Year’s day in 1942 Dennis Hastert was born. It was less than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He grew up in Plainfield, Illinois a town that was about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. Its present population is around 40,000. He went to Oswego High School in a neighboring town where he wrestled and played football.

He graduated from Wheaton College in 1964. The next year he was working as a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. He stayed there from age 23 to age 39 until he entered the Illinois House of Representatives in 1981. He would get his masters in education in 1967. He married a fellow teacher Jean Kahl in 1973 at age 31. They are still married over 40 years later although when he went to DC she stayed home. They have two children: Ethan and Joshua.

Hastert became a successful politician rising to become Speaker in the U.S. House in 1999 at age 57. He held that position for eight years. According to Wikipedia he was worth no more than $270,000 when he entered Congress in 1987 but when he left his net worth has risen from somewhere between 4 million and 17 million dollars. It does give legs to the story he took $500,000 to sink the Armenian Genocide resolution.

He left Congress in November 2007 and six months later started working for a lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, DC as a senior advisor. For five years after he resigned from Congress he was paid $40,000 a month, yes, a month, for his office expenses. It is amazing how generous our politicians are to themselves with our money. If you want one word for the way things are happening in D.C. I’d  suggest “stinks.” But I guess it is not limited to D.C.  Denny served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1981 to 1986 and gets a $34,000 pension for 6 years of service.

You have to say Denny did all right for himself until his past came hurrying back at him in 2010. As one commentator here noted to keep up with the tenor of the recent subject matter, he entered into an accord and satisfaction to buy this person’s silence. It is hard to believe the person, who I will refer to by the appropriate name, blackmailer, disappeared from Denny’s life back when he was a young school teacher and suddenly arrived back on the scene demanding 3.5 million dollars.

“Hey, Denny, remember me. I was the boy on the wrestling team you took care of forty years ago. How about forking over 3.5 million and I keep my mouth shut.”

“Sure,” Blackmailier, but I can’t come up with it right away I’ll make a couple of $50,000 payments and then spread the rest out over the next few year.”

“Sounds, good Denny.”

Things don’t happen that way.  It is likely Blackmailer would have tried to reach into Denny’s pockets for something when he was Speaker or even before. Why would he wait until 2010 as alleged in the indictment; had Denny gone to his Maker then Blackmailer would get nothing. It will be interesting to see how he earned his living during the times Denny was in office. Maybe he was a military contractor.

The newspapers are saying Blackmailer is a male student who was involved in sexual matters with Denny. The LA times said there’s a second student who was involved. He must be really pissed seeing Blackmailer getting all that money and he got nothing. No wonder he is now stepping up to the plate. Who knows how many will be hanging around the batter’s box.

This casts a little light on the Mark Foley scandal with the congressional pages and Hastert’s indifference to it. Who would ever have thought Denny was engaged in gay relations but what about this back in 2006?  A comment to an article back then said that rumors “surfaced about inappropriate contact with male high school students” which forced him into politics.  Then in 2015 the call on CSPAN from a guy named Bruce who said he was from Plainville and added “remember me” with a laugh and hung up.

In 2010 Denny knew being gay is ok. It seems unlike something someone can be bribed over especially if they are out of politics. Do you pay 3.5 million to hush up hypocrisy? Who is worse Denny or Josh Duggar?

We don’t know how old the alleged boys were when he had his time with them. Is Denny another Jerry Sandusky? What we do know is that one of them had fairly good proof, well at least 3.5 million dollars worth of proof, of Denny’s indiscretions.

I come away from this thinking Denny is not that bright which tells a lot about the Speaker of the U.S. House and a ton more about the people running our government. How does Boehner fit in this? Perhaps we are much worse off than I ever imagined.

How could Denny ever think he could get away with this; didn’t he know if the 3.5 million was met there would be additional demands. Didn’t he know by succumbing to Blackmailer he was admitting his guilt, no one who is innocent would agree to pay $350 never mind 3.5 million.

There will be a lot more to this story. We will find out Blackmailer’s identity. He was extorted into cooperating by the FBI in exchange for getting a pass on the extortion and income tax evasion charges (is bribe money taxable). Other kids may step forward looking for a pay day. Denny will avoid prison unless too much Sandusky stuff surfaces. Denny will keep a low profile until the plea deal is done. Blackmailer won’t get any more money. Within a year Denny will be back in good standing as a lobbyist to the U.S. House of Scandal where he once was Speaker.




  1. I think as Matt may have pointed out, it’s likely the blackmailer has a deal with the feds. This is a case with no victims, the blackmailer have forfeited any right to our sympathy with his greedy scheme. I think as Matt also noted, it’s hard to believe this guy only started asking for money in 2010. The case seems to have genuinely embarrassed official Washington. There’s something sad and off – putting about the depth of a corrupt congessional culture in which even the teen victim of sex abuse becomes a player — a monster in his own way.

  2. I assume that the Feds will indict the blackmailer for not paying taxes on the monies (s)he received.

    • Michael:

      I think the blackmailer made a deal for himself and he won’t be charged. Time will tell.

  3. Venial sins indeed. It’s a very weird tale. It doesn’t look like Hastert was able to do much in the way of character – building with his blackmailer. Birds of a feather, I suppose.

    • Dan:

      The question remains did Hastert have to be indicted. I’ll have to write about that in a day or two.

  4. Hastert’s real crime is stupidity in paying a blackmailer. These days, he’d be better advised to fly the rainbow flag, if Ireland is any example, where the closet doors have opened to show it was a very crowded closet.

    But Hastert was not indicted for the alleged, unspecified “past misconduct” against an unnamed person to whom he agreed to pay $3.5 million to keep concealed.

    Instead, Hastert was indicted for two alleged felonies: 1) withdrawing cash from his bank accounts in amounts and patterns designed to hide the payments; and 2) lying to the FBI about the purpose of those withdrawals once they detected them and then inquired with him. That’s it. For those venial acts, he faces five years in a federal prison on each count.

    Lying to any Federal official is illegal.

    So be very careful when dealing with anyone from the government.

    • Henry:

      I think that is the benefit of the gay movement that people can come out of the closet to avoid being blackmailed. Hastert’s problem is not that he was gay, if he is, but that he hid it to be the leader of the “family values” people. Although had he not hid it he may never have been elected at the time he ran for office but if he started out now it may not have hurt him. However he had a fondness for high school boys and that is a cat of different stripe.

      True the closet was crowded and even though in Ireland the doors have been thrown open there will be others who will hide in the corner. I’ll never forget the story of the Irish sportsman who was identified as gay and he had to leave the team and fly back into the country because of it. That was not too long ago. When he got to the airport his father picked him up. They rode home together for a couple of hours and not once did the problem that brought him home come up in discussion. That is so Irish father. How then do we account for the vast change in attitude over recent years?

      True Hastert was not charged with sexual conduct with kids but he might as well have been as far as his reputation is concerned. I’ll have more to say about that. Also, as you correctly not one must be careful about talking to any federal law enforcement official or even talking to a person who has been approached by such an official. No one can help themselves by giving information about anything asked. You can only get in a jam.

  5. Stay tuned as we watch how the justice system (FBI and DOJ) “delivers justice.”

    The FBI and the DOJ has been covering up public corruption for those that are “connected” for decades.

    Consider the case of disgraced former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) Scott Bloch. Even after his guilty plea and conviction, Bloch walked with mere probation. His conduct harmed a lot of innocent people.

    Then we have Richard T. Race, the former Pentagon inspector general’s “chief investigator of procurement fraud and official misconduct,” who was allowed to “voluntarily resign” in 2008 for violating U.S. banking laws, the same as Hastert.

    Race admitted he made cash deposits at the Pentagon’s credit union on three straight days in March 2007 that were designed to evade laws that track large currency transactions. In other words, fraudulent banking transactions.

    As to Race’s “brilliance” he told a credit union teller he was making three separate deposits — two for $9,000 and one for $2,000 — that were “to avoid generating a report to the government…’

    Race pleaded guilty to one count of structuring cash transactions to evade reporting requirements. Race also lied to law enforcement. His conduct also harmed a lot of innocent people.

    According to the “equal justice under the law” and “no one is above the law” standard, Race walked.

    However, Martha Stewart who lied to law enforcement was not connected and she went to jail.

    I expect that Hastert will receive “equal justice under the law” and will walk.

  6. I think we’ve seen the last of Denny, thank God. He must have made a ton as a lobbyist in order to keep making all those cash blackmail payments. Sex offenders tend to be repeaters. Stay tuned.

    • Dan:

      I’m told that lobbyists do very well financially. When you think of the enormous power of the people in Washington DC have over the lives of others and the wealth of our nation and the work involved in being one which is usually just opening doors for people to meet the politicians it attracts all sorts of people who want to be rich without working hard for their money.

  7. “Denny We Hardly Knew Yah!”?

    For most of us, that is a good thing.

  8. “…rumors “surfaced about inappropriate contact with male high school students” which forced him into politics.”

    So THAT’S where politicians come from! Now it all begins to make sense to me.

    • Jeff:

      I would not say all of them decided to enter politics for that reason; I suggest the more compelling reason people do is to do good. The question is who are they planning to do good for: themselves or others, or both.