Ex-Speaker Hastert quietly tried to boost income: report

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Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert | Sun-Times file photo

WASHINGTON — Former House speaker Dennis Hastert looked for ways to increase his income around the time he is accused of paying someone to stay quiet about decades-old misconduct, according to a former business associate.

J. David John told The New York Times that he asked a financial adviser in 2010 how investments could be arranged to yield more cash and that he inquired on Hastert’s behalf, without identifying him. John said he doesn’t know whether the attempt to set up an annuity relates to the payoffs Hastert is accused of making.

Hastert is charged with evading bank regulations by withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in smaller amounts and lying about why. The indictment says Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay $3.5 million to a person to compensate for and conceal past misconduct. He is scheduled to appear at his arraignment on the two charges in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday. If convicted, he could face a maximum five-year sentence and a $250,000 fine on each charge.

The Times posted emails and other documents showing efforts by Hastert to grow his slow-starting lobbying and consulting business after he left politics.

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A collection of emails, many between John and a Hastert assistant, suggests the former Republican congressman’s schedule was picking up as he traveled to Singapore, Montreal and other sites of projects he was helping clients advance. Among them were efforts to move a golf tournament to the Middle East from the U.S., to bring Formula One racing to Chicago and to engage in a California land development.

In June 2010, John received an email from a financial adviser who was consulted about how to generate more cash for Hastert but given only limited details of the former congressman’s finances and nothing identifying him. Hastert had amassed wealth in real estate but those investments were largely tied up. “In general, he can probably get 4-6 percent in the annuity world,” the adviser told John. “This would provide him a steady stream of income and more than likely a guarantee that he would not run out of income in his lifetime.”

According to the indictment, however, Hastert was heavily tapping his income that summer, withdrawing $50,000 at a time and making secret payments every six weeks.

The Times obtained documents from a lawyer for John, who had a falling out with Hastert and has sued him.

A person familiar with the allegations told The Associated Press that the payments were intended to conceal claims that Hastert sexually molested someone decades ago. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

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