I imagine you're following this story:
J. Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican speaker in the U.S. House, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges that he violated banking laws in a bid to pay $3.5 million because of “past misconduct” against an unnamed individual from their hometown west of Chicago....
The indictment did not spell out the exact nature of the “prior misconduct” by Hastert against the individual from his hometown, Yorkville, but noted that before entering politics in 1981, Hastert spent more than a decade as a teacher and wrestling coach at the local high school. The unnamed individual has known Hastert for most of that person’s life, the indictment states.
What's going on here? What did Hastert do to Individual A that he's apparently being paying to keep secret?
I assume we'll find out soon. Until then, I'd like to be irresponsible and note that rumors about Hastert were being spread in 2006, the last full year of his term as as House Speaker. This was during the Mark Foley scandal -- Foley, you'll recall, was a Republican member of the House who made inappropriate advances to male House pages, including one who was sixteen years old. Hastert said he knew nothing about the scandal before it broke, although the House Ethics Committee subsequent said that the evidence showed advance knowledge by Hastert.
Hastert has been married since 1973 -- but some observers were speculating in '06 that Hastert had secrets. At the Huffington Post, Lawrence O'Donnell insinuated that Hastert and a male top aide were more than friends:
Who is Scott Palmer?
He is Speaker Hastert's chief of staff....
There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there's breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there's all day at the office. Hastert and Palmer are together more than any other co-workers in the Congress.
At roughly the same time, AMERICAblog's John Aravosis published this cryptic post:
Denny Hastert has put me in a difficult position.
I've heard rumors. Unsubstantiated talk. No proof yet. But I've heard things. Just like I heard things about Mark Foley this past July. This time I've heard things about a relatively senior Republican member of the House, and also about someone on the Speaker's own staff. Both rumors seem relevant to this story as it's unfolding.
So here's my dilemma. Denny Hastert says that if I don't report the unsubstantiated allegations I've heard, I'm a criminal. But the thing is, I'm also a journalist, and a good human being. I don't think it's right to print unsubstantiated rumors I've heard, rumors that could make life quite difficult for this Republican congressman and this senior member of Hastert's staff.
So what do I do? Do I publish unsubstantiated rumors about a GOP congressman and one of Denny Hastert's top aides? I don't want to, I don't think it's right, but Denny Hastert says he'll sic the FBI on me for hurting children if I don't.
And at the untrustworthy fringe, there was this from Wayne Masden:
The rumors about another top GOP member of the House being involved in sexual encounters with young "men for hire" are confirmed to WMR by well-placed sources in Washington's gay community. The member in question is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, whose "alternate" life style is the primary reason for him and his staff covering up the scandal involving ex-Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley and his lewd messages sent to underage male congressional pages....
WMR reported on old charges that swirled around Hastert when he was a high school wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Illinois. Hastert decided to enter politics in 1980 after rumors surfaced about inappropriate contact with male high school students.
Masden seems to throw everything against the wall (in this post he tells us Hastert is known to have a small penis, and in another post -- found at Alex Jones's Prison Planet -- he insinuates that a Hastert visit to the Mariana Islands could have involved sex with minors).
I don't know what to make of this. But the point is that some rumors involving Hastert were going around a decade ago. And now this.
Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog