Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, known for his role in impeaching former President Bill Clinton among a myriad of other sketchy dealings, will turn himself over to the criminal justice system today. He is set to serve 15 months in a Minnesota medical prison for financial crimes related to decades-old, repeated sexual abuse of underage students.
In October, Hastert, who at one time was second in line for the presidency, plead guilty to “structuring currency transactions“ in the amount of $1.7 million. The transactions were meant to cover-up the payment of hush money to a man Hastert sexually abused decades ago while still a high school wrestling coach.
Hastert’s repeated breaking of both legal and ethical standards happened in the late-1960s through the early-1970s.
At Hastert’s sentencing, Judge Thomas Durkin referred to the once powerful Congressman as a “serial child molester,” an interesting, if not absolutely horrifying, juxtaposition to the phrase “Speaker of the House.” With Hastert’s will breaking by the second, he expressed remorse for his actions, telling the court he was “deeply ashamed to be standing here today.”
Assuming the 74-year-old, perpetually ill Hastert is still alive at the end of his incarceration, he will be under two years of supervision. After issuing his plea, Hastert suffered a stroke and was hospitalized until January. According to his attorney, Hastert also underwent treatment for sepsis and for a blood infection, as well as having two back surgeries.
Hastert spent 20 years in the United States House of Representatives, including nearly eight years as the 51st Speaker of the House. Hastert was a strong supporter of President George W. Bush’s controversial foreign and domestic policies. In 2004, Hastert instituted what has become known as the Hastert rule, or “majority of the majority” rule, wherein the House of Representatives were only allowed to vote on bills that were supported by the majority of its Republican members.
It’s no wonder Hastert resigned his seat when the Democrats took control of the House following the 2006 mid-term elections.
Featured image by Doug Bowman, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.