Hastert duped into letting stranger inside

SHARE Hastert duped into letting stranger inside
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In this photo released by the Global Peace Initiative, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, right, meets with Christian evangelist K.A. Paul, founder of the Global Peace Initiative, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006, at Hastert’s home in Plano, Ill.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert , with his job on the line because of the spiraling Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal, was duped Tuesday into letting a stranger into his Plano home — a serious security breach.

Hastert literally let his guard down and allowed in his house a hustling, self-promoting evangelist little known in this country, the Houston-based K.A. Paul, who at 7:30 a.m. arrived at the speaker’s home with a camera-wielding associate.

How Paul and his aide, Dennis Ryan, got to Hastert ‘s door is a tale of apparent chance. How the publicity-hungry Paul and Ryan walked through it was a matter of a “frank discussion” later in the day with the federal security detail assigned to Hastert around the clock.

All top congressional leaders are provided security, with the protective force surrounding Hastert most visible because as speaker, he is the third in line to the presidency.

Hastert was led to believe he was meeting with a supporter. He was surprised to find out otherwise, the Sun-Times has learned. Paul said he asked Hastert to resign. He also said he prayed with the speaker and “laid hands” on him after a 40-minute meeting.

Coincidence led to meeting?

Paul, 43, born a Hindu in India, founded a Christian international ministry called Global Peace Initiatives. In a probe of Paul that ran June 9 in the Houston Press, Paul is called in the magazine article “an egomaniac with a doctored past.”

Paul told the Sun-Times he prefers the title “world’s most popular” minister.

Ryan said he arranged the meeting with Hastert in what seems a massive coincidence. Ryan told of driving to tiny Plano Monday night from South Bend, Ind., where Paul had been touring following a spiritual call. Ryan said he was eating at a restaurant in Plano when Hastert happened to walk in with his security guards. He introduced himself and got Paul on the phone.

Hastert talked to Paul and apparently decided to make the Tuesday date with him without consulting his advisors. Paul arrived at the Hastert home with an Associated Press reporter, who did not go inside.

‘CORDIAL DISCUSSION’

Paul made public pictures he took of Hastert in a knick-knack filled area of his home.

Hastert spokesman Brad Hahn said, “The speaker had a cordial discussion but disagrees with his point of view.”

The Paul matter is a headache to Hastert compared to whether there was any coverup in the Foley scandal.

Hastert chief of staff Scott Palmer has denied an accusation by former Foley chief of staff Kirk Fordham that Palmer was told years ago of Foley’s inordinate interest in pages — not November 2005.

In Aurora, Hastert said any staffer who was part of a cover-up would be fired. “If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs,” he said.

His comments came after he addressed a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Aurora.

Hastert ‘s second stop was at Clarity Communications, a high-tech Aurora-based firm providing specialized Push-To-Talk services for cell phones, including some that could assist rescue workers in emergencies, a Clarity spokeswoman said.

Trailed by photographers and news cameras, Hastert toured the firm’s Aurora plant for about 15 minutes with CEO Jim Fuentes, then spent about 10 minutes in a closed-door session with company executives.

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