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Sen. Kirk sending $10,000 Hastert donation to Waukegan charity

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is donating $10,000 that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert contributed to his 2010 Senate fund to a Waukegan charity.

The scandalized Hastert was indicted last week, accused of breaking banking rules and lying to the FBI. The charges came in the wake of hush money Hastert was paying to a man accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago.

Pastor John Caples, on the board of directors of the nonprofit Family First Center of Lake County, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kirk phoned him on Thursday and “said he wanted to redirect some funds.”

Caples said the money will help fund after-school programs for children.

Kirk, one of most vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2016, acted Thursday as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a release headlined, “Will Mark Kirk Return Denny Hastert’s Scandalized Money?”

Hastert sent the $10,000 to Kirk through his Keep Our Mission PAC. Kirk’s Senate campaign fund will send the money to Family First.

The DSCC turned up the heat on Kirk and two other senators who took Hastert contributions, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and were aiming to play hardball over the Hastert donation.

“Mark Kirk should return or donate Denny Hastert’s money immediately,” Sadie Weiner, DSCC National press secretary, said in a statement. “Kirk has taken $10,000 from Denny Hastert who is just the latest Republican Speaker of the House to face serious charges about corruption and misconduct, and until Kirk returns the funds he is giving his tacit approval to these bad actions.”

Meanwhile, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group that advocates for abuse victims, called for Hastert’s portrait in the Capitol to be removed.

“It’s time that Congress take a simple but similar step toward healing and prevention, by removing the painting of Hastert,” SNAP said in a statement, noting that Hastert has not been convicted of any crime.

“And one quick, easy way to discourage adults from committing or concealing heinous crimes against kids is to withdraw honors they may have achieved,” SNAP said.