Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hastert: A Target or Tarnished?

Looks like House Speaker, Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is in for a rough ride.

He loudly protested the historical first-time-in-over-200-years invasion by federal agents into the private office of a representative suspected of wrongdoing, even though that representative was a Democrat, on the grounds of separation of powers.... and he blocked the Bush White House illegal alien amnesty scheme. He now has a big target on his ample back, so one has to wonder....

The Washington Post in today's "Lawmakers' Profits Are Scrutinized" reports that Hastert seems to have made a "$2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds."

But according a friend of Hastert, in 2002 he saw a post-and-beam house, fell in love with it and struck a deal with the owner on the spot, purchasing it and 195 acres for $2.1 million. This land was adjacent to his home. Long story short, he sold it six months ago for nearly $5 million.

The question is.... did the earmarked highway interchange which won't be built for years, which is 5 1/2 miles from this property, account for the increase in the value of his land...or was it simply the fact that "land prices are soaring as Chicago's sprawl moves ever westward."

The facts for the story come from a new watchdog organization called Sunlight Foundation and the allegations were first made on their Web site a week ago. This investigative site proclaims a worthy purpose, to uncover fiscal abuses by our lawmakers, especially in connection to "earmarks" in the federal budget. We applaud them for that.

Yet, their timing is curious. Hastert probably can't look to the White House for support, and the allegations only add fuel to the corruption fire that may propel him from his majority House leadership in November.

Hastert's attorney is demanding of the Sunlight Foundation "that the false, libelous and deflamatory matter be immediately withdrawn and corrected." Let's see how this develops.

1 comment:

ESchmeltzer said...

I help at Sunlight, so thanks for the mention! You know, if you want to dig up some more, we can use the help! Check out Bill Allison's blog for how citizen journalists, together, can do some muckraking for more of these kinds of deals.