The sordid details have emerged about why Dennis Hastert the former speaker of the House of Representatives agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone. It turns out that he had molested students while he was a high school wrestling coach before he went into politics and that this was hush money when they threatened to reveal it.
When the story of the payments first came to light without the reasons, I was struck by how someone who had gone straight from being a high school teacher to state and national elected office could have become so wealthy and I wrote about it then.
There are other strange facts especially that when Hastert entered Congress in 1987, he had a net worth of at most $270,000 but when he left twenty years later he had between $4 million and $17 million. That amounts to increases in worth between $200,000 to $850,000 per year, with even the lower figure being well above his annual congressional salary. So either his wife was earning a huge amount of money or he is one helluva financial wizard when it comes to investing.
After he left office, he became (what else?) a highly paid lobbyist. But how did he get to be so wealthy before he left Congress? There are suggestions that he would buy property that he knew would become much more valuable because of congressional actions that he pushed through, and then sell them at huge profits. No doubt lobbyists and wealthy donors would help in this scheme and use this kind of mechanism to circumvent bribery and lobbying laws. As I keep saying, what is a scandal is not what is illegal but what is legal.
What I would like to see is a full-fledged investigation into how he acquired so much money on a government salary.