So Much For Hastert’s Hidden Past

Well, maybe federal prosecutors agreed not to describe in the indictment the “misconduct” that led to Dennis Hastert’s illegal hush money payments. But apparently the agreement did not extend to press leaks. Less than a day after the indictment went public, the L.A. Times is reporting this:

Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.

One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.

“It goes back a long way, back to then,” the source said. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.” Thursday’s indictment described the misconduct “against Individual A” as having “occurred years earlier.”

Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.

Hastert and his attorneys could not be reached. Representatives of his lobbying firm declined to comment.

I’m sure they did.

Assuming this report is accurate, the term “abuse” would appear to exclude any consensual adult relationship–you know, of the type increasingly accepted by most people, if not by all of Hastert’s political allies. It’s also not clear that if the “misconduct” was criminal in nature, it’s still legally actionable.

In retrospect, it seems not identifying this in the indictment just gave Hastert a few hours to tell the people he needed to tell and then run to ground. And it looks like violating banking regulations in the vain effort to cover it all up is the least of his problems.

UPDATE: Buzzfeed is reporting that prosecutors had at least one–and perhaps more–other allegation in hand that they chose not to include in the indictment. Yikes.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.