Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleads not guilty

After navigating through a scrum of reporters surging outside the Dirksen Federal building in downtown Chicago, former Speaker Dennis Hastert entered a plea of not guilty to charges he attempted to shroud substantial cash withdrawals and lied to federal authorities about his activities.

As stated in the complaint, Hastert, between 2010 and 2014, withdrew in excess of $1.5 million is cash in amounts less than $10,000 to circumvent bank dictums which require federal notification of transactions exceeding $10,000.

The FBI believes Hastert withdrew the money for payment to an unnamed individual to conceal the sexual abuse of a male student Hastert had contact with as a former educator and coach at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Illinois.

Judge Thomas Durkin set a $4,500 appearance bond for Hastert and ordered him to to surrender his passport and remove firearms from his home.

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

The law requires more than assumption; it requires fact.  Although an incomplete picture, in the case against Hastert, we have a bit of both:  Hastert, with clear financial motive and ensnared in a twisted web of deceit, lied to the FBI and the alleged victim’s family is identifying Hastert as the perpetrator in a pernicious crime.

One of the realities of American political life exemplified by this case is the dilemma faced by all politicians who leave public service: Hastert thought his dirty little secret would fail to pierce the secure bubble in his post-office life.  Unfortunately for Hastert, his life besieged by memories of his disgraceful behavior only returned to haunt him and further complicate his life through a blackmail plot.

Most elected officials do manage to avoid trouble during and after public office.  In this case, Hastert’s past fell prey to coercion and it overwhelmed his better judgement.

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