The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

House Speaker Hastert under FBI scrutiny?

It has long been suggested that Tom DeLay never made Speaker of the House because it was much more safe and effective to have 'The Hammer' work behind the scenes. But it didn't protect him from indictment. The man who did get the post, Illinois' Dennis Hastert, is set to have some problems of his own.

ABC News noted today that he is apparently the top Congressional recipient of Jack Abramoff's largesse: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, House Speaker Dennis Hastert is the No.1 individual recipient of money from Abramoff and his clients, with a total of $68,300 contributed to his campaign committee and leadership PAC from 1998 to 2004.

And you know what that means:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

UPDATE (5/25): The Department of Justice (including the Deputy Attorney General), and Hastert's staff are denying these allegations, although the DOJ "acknowledged that it normally refuses to confirm or deny news stories about its investigations." ABC has so far refused to retract the story, claiming that "law enforcement sources" had assured them Hastert was part of the investigation.