The Real Scandal in Denny Hastert's Life

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The Real Scandal in Denny Hastert's Life

Washington's gossip mill is spinning furiously over the recent revelations about Dennis Hastert's long hidden sexual molestation scandal. But what about the filthy, backroom affair he's been openly conducting with corporate lobbyists for nearly two decades?

During his tenure as House speaker, Hastert turned the place into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of corporate favors. In exchange for campaign cash for Republican candidates, corporate interests gained entry into Denny's psychedelic playhouse. With Hastert himself singing "Candy Man," the favor seekers could help themselves to the river of chocolate running through Congress' back rooms.

Remember "earmarks," the sneaky tactic of letting congressional leaders secretly funnel appropriations to favored corporations and projects? Earmarks were the trademark of Hastert's regime – indeed, Denny grabbed a $200 million earmark for himself, funding an Illinois highway near land he owned – land he then sold, netting millions in personal profit.

When he left Congress, Hastert moved just a short limo ride away to become – what else? – a corporate lobbyist. Trading on his former title, personal ties to House members, and knowledge of how the chocolate factory runs, he has been hauling in a fortune as a high-dollar influence peddler for makers of candy-flavored cigarettes, Peabody Coal Company, and other giants. He specializes in getting "riders" attached to appropriations bills, so public money is channeled directly to his clients.

Most certainly, Hastert should be held accountable for the deep personal damage and pain his alleged molestation would've caused for his former student. But Denny should also pay for his abominable abuse of the House Speaker's office, his self-gratifying groping of public funds, and his repeated, sticky-fingered violations of the American people's trust.


This has been reposted from Jim Hightower's website.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.