Janet's Conner

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Friday, August 11, 2006

J. DENNIS HASTERT NEEDS TO FESS UP


As we are all aware of, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Speaker of the House of Representatives is, unfortunately, running for reelection in the state of Illinois. I have always said, "Do not judge these politicians by what they tell you on the campaign trail. Judge them for what they have done in the past." It appears that Mr. Hastert carries a lot of extra luggage with him and he needs to get rid of it and fess up to the people. I think that the Hastert family has gained too much from the office of the congressman and speaker. His two sons are lobbyists in Washington working for google and an oil company. Until Hastert fesses up to what he has done, I say that he should be totally ignored this election season. It's time for him to go. Let's look at one of Hastert's dirty deals:

HASTERT WON'T FESS UP TO HONEST GRAFT
By Paul Kiel
June 2006

Last week, we noted House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) sweet real estate deal---a deal that, as many TPM readers pointed out, Tammany Hall pol George Washington Plunkitt would have dismissed as "honest graft." "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em," Hastert might say.

Simply put, Hastert bought up a chunk of farmland, pushed to fund a highway near the area, and then cashed out three months after the funding was secured. An age-old scam.

Only in this day and age, Hastert won't own up to it. His spokesman is laughing arguably that the highway is "too far away [from the land] to have an effect."

This is remote farmland that will now be about five miles from a major highway. To be generous, that's a ten minute drive. I'm no expert, but it seems to me (born and raised in North Atlanta) a truism of suburban real estate that accessibility to an interstate or major road affects land value. The area does by all accounts seem to be experiencing a real estate boom (it's apparently the second fastest growing county in the U.S.), but it's absurd to argue that the effect of the highway on the property's value is negligible. What Hastert's flack is saying basically amounts to arguing that location doesn't have an effect on real estate values. Plunkitt would never have insulted his public with such a line.

And according to yesterday's Chicago Tribune, there's even more honest graft coming Denny's way. For tax reasons, Hastert and his business partners used the profits from the sale to buy more property---property "just south" of the land they just sold. So in about a year, Hastert will get to cash in again on land that's appreciated because of his highway.

Maybe then Hastert will have a better set of talking points.




CHI TRIB: HASTERT POCKETED $1.5 MIL ON REAL ESTATE DEAL

By: Paul Kiel
June 15, 2006

The Chicago Tribune puts a number of Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) killing on that real estate deal: $1.5 million

And here are the basics, first reported by the Sunlight Foundation yesterday.

Hastert acquired the first part of the land in August, 2002, a 69 acre portion of a 196-acre farm purchased under his wife's name. The rest was acquired by a land trust in February, 2004 of which Hastert had a quarter interest---the two partners were Dallas Ingemunson ("a long-time supporter and political mentor to Hastert who is chairman of the Kendall County Republican Party") and Thomas Klatt ("a local trucking company owner who also has been a long-time supporter and campaign contributor to Hastert").

The funding for the Prairie Parkway, which will run 5.5 miles from the plot, went through in the Fall of 2005. Three months after that, in December, Hastert and his partners cashed out, selling the land to a developer for a $3M total profit. Ingemunson told the Tribune that Hastert's share of that was five-eighths---about $1.5M. (The Chicago Sun-Times, without attribution, reports the profit as "close to $2M).

Now Hastert's camp is focusing on squashing the story with the line that 5.5 miles isn't close enough to effect the price of the plot. In fact, they're so up in arms that Hastert's lawyer wrote an angry letter to the Sunlight Foundation and have threatened legal action. But no amount of yelling will change the facts on the table.




BUY LOW, EARMARK TO BUILD NEARBY HIGHWAY, SELL HIGH

By: Paul Kiel
June 14, 2006

Over at the Sunlight Foundation, they've found Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) taking a page from Rep. Ken Calvert's (R-CA) investment playbook.

For years, Hastert has been pushing the construction of a highway called the Prairie Parkway in Illinois. He secured $207M in earmarks to support the project. But what he didn't tell constituents was that he owned a huge plot of farmland just a few miles from where the raod would run. And now that the project's gone through, the land has been transferred to a real estate development firm with plans to build a 1,600 home community. The land has already improved in value by millions of dollars.

I wonder how much Hastert will ultimately make on the deal?




BUSH ORDERS SEIZED DOCS SEALED FOR 45 DAYS

By: Justin Rood
May 25, 2006

President Bush has intervened in the constitutional catfight between House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Congress, and the FBI and the Justice Department. He ordered all materials seized by the FBI from their raid on Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) office to be sealed for 45 days.

***Makes you wonder what Hastert is so afraid of, doesn't it? What does he got to hide?

The documents are currently held by the solicitor general, Paul Clement, AP reports. The solicitor general's official duties are to represent the U.S. Government in cases before the Supreme Court.




ABC IGNORES DENNY'S GRAND SLAM

By: Justin Rood
May 25, 2006

Hastert has struck back at ABC News for saying he is under investigation by the Justice Department in connection with the Abramoff trial. But the network appears not be be heeding him.

***Hastert is definitely wound up with Abramoff. Maybe not in his trial, but with Abramoff!

Hastert had his personal lawyer write an angry letter to ABC, accusing the network of "libel and defamation" for its "publication of...false information, after having actual knowledge of its falsity." This is on top of his earlier demand that ABC retract its story.

***Politicians don't usually have a personal attorney unless they need one! What is Hastert worried about now?

ABC's apparent response? Bring it. The network published yet another story, this one not even about Hastert, that manages to mention one more time the allegation that the Feds are looking into the House Speaker.




DEP AG: HASTERT NOT "IN THE MIX"

By Paul Kiel
May 25, 2006

Brian Ross relays the Justice Department's latest on ABC's story that Dennis Hastert is under investigation by the FBI, this one straight from the DOJ's #2, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty:

"With regard to reports suggesting that the Speaker of the House is under investigation or 'in the mix,' as stated by ABC News, I reconfirm, as stated by the Department earlier this evening, that these reports are untrue."

This sounds like a comprehensive denial to me.

***When something isn't true, you usually blow it off. Hastert has to go and get the DOJ to come out to let us know that he's "not in the mix." Why doesn't he just leave it alone? BECAUSE HE DOES HAVE SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT!




IF FEDS ARE CURIOUS ABOUT HASTERT, IT'S NOT HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHY

By: Justin Rood
May 25, 2006

It was a shock to most when ABC reported yesterday evening that the Justice Department was investigating House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). But a look at the record shows the Abramoff scandal has been camped outside Hastert's door for some time.

The crux of Hastert's troubles is a 2003 letter to then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton which the GOP leader co-signed, along with three other party members, concerning an Abramoff tribal client. As long ago as September 2004, The Washington Post telegraphed how fishy that missive was:

V. Heather Sibbison, a lobbyist at the time for Jena Band, said: "I don't do this for a living, and I have never seen a letter like that before. It was incredibly unusual for that group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues, to express such a strong opinion about a particular project not in any of their home states."

This January, when Abramoff pleaded out and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the Chicago Tribune's Mike Dorning told us what bad news that was for Hastert. A week before the quartet sent their letter, he noted, Abramoff had hosted a fundraiser for Hastert. "The guilty plea by lobbyist Jack Abramoff could bring renewed scrutiny of a letter sent by House Speaker Dennis Hastert," he wrote, and explained why:

Indian tribes represented by Abramoff donated more than $20,000 to Hastert around the time of the fundraiser, which was held at Signatures, a Washington restaurant owned by Abramoff. Hastert's campaign committee did not pay the tab for the June 3, 2003, luncheon fundraiser until last year, following media inquiries about the unpaid check.

Given all that, it would almost be curious if the Justice Department truly had no interest in Hastert.




ABC STICKS BY STORY: HASTERT UNDER INVESTIGATION

By: Paul Kiel
May 24, 2006

Shortly after the ABC News story hit, a Justice Department spokewoman issued a statement that "Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department." Hastert demanded a retraction from ABC.

But these terms---investigation, subject, etc.---are terms of art. And an official denial doesn't mean very much. Brian Ross has since posted an update saying that his sources, described as "federal law enforcement sources," are telling him that the DOJ's denial "was meant only to deny that Hastert was a formal 'target' or 'subject' of the investigation." To be a target or a subject is, of course, a very high threshold. Often a target letter will nearly coincide with an indictment, as was the case with Scooter Libby.

But let there be no doubt---Jack Abramoff has spilled the beans of Hastert:

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff's information......

"Whether they like it or not, members of Congress, including Hastert, are under investigation," one federal official said tonight.




HASTERT UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FBI

By: Paul Kiel
May 24, 2006

Do you think they'll try to search his office?

From ABC:

The Speaker of The House Of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress. ABC News has learned from high level government sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation invloves 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 repeatedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

This 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.

***Like I said, Hastert doesn't deserve to be reelected, especially since he done this uinder his title as "Speaker of the House." The Hasterts have gained enough money through his office. You'd be a fool to vote for Hastert! If you know anybody who plans on voting for him, send them this article.



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