How Denny Hastert cashed in as a lobbyist

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Denny Hastert made big money after moving into lobbying | (AP file photo)

WASHINGTON — A year after leaving Congress, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert R-Illinois, joined Dickstein Shapiro and in time became co-chair of the Washington lobbying and law firm’s public policy and political law practice.

Hastert was indicted Thursday on federal charges of violating banking disclosure laws after he made cash withdrawals totaling $1.7 million from several banks and lying to the FBI when agents asked him about that.

The withdrawals were part of $3.5 million Hastert agreed to pay a man who made accusations of sexual misconduct decades before.

That Hastert had the enormous wealth to make such cash outlays between 2010 and 2014 is thanks in part to his lucrative lobbying career, payments he got for sitting on two boards and three government pensions — one from Congress, one from Illinois for his time in the General Assembly and the last for the 16 years he was a high school teacher in Yorkville.

On Saturday, a spokesman for REX American Resources Corp. said the company notified the federal Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday that Hastert has resigned from its board. Hastert had joined the cboard of the ompany — a Dickstein client — last June.

Hastert also stepped down last week from Dickstein and the board of CME Group Inc.

There are different strains of lobbyists in Washington. Hastert was more of an adviser and strategist and a big name to help attract clients. Unlike some former Illinois lawmakers who became lobbyists — for example, former Rep. William Lipinski, D-Illinois, who has Metra and CTA lobbying deals — Hastert did not appear to be clouting in local Illinois government business for his firm.

Hastert registered last year as a lobbyist for eight clients — all of them shared with other lobbyists at Dickstein.

Dickstein collected a total of $1,730,000 in 2014 from this group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $1,060,000 came from Lorillard Tobacco. Hastert also was registered to lobby for REX, Centerpoint Properties, Grain Management; IHS Inc., Peabody Energy and Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.

A former Washington lobbyist estimated that Hastert “probably, at most, based on client billings, would have earned a third of that. But he likely would have shared that with others registered for those clients at the firm, especially the billing partner who brought in the business.

“If he made more money, it was likely based on a prestige premium, ‘name value,’ access, etc., rather than shoe-leather work done — although one phone call can be worth a lot . . . and he might have still been working off his initial agreement with Dickstein, which could have had a guarantee for a number of years.”

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