Denny Hastert Cops A Plea

Denny Hastert Cops A Plea

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Last week Politico reported that former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert had entered a plea of guilty on a single felony charge of violating bank money transfer laws enacted after 9/11 as part of the Patriot Act to counter illegal money laundering. The report said only that the illegal transfers were part of a hush money scheme that the indictment in the case said was to cover-up “past misconduct” that occurred back in the eighties when Hastert was still a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Ohio.

You would expect that a story about a lurid sex scandal would stay around for at least a few days.

In earlier reports by the media back in June it was alleged that the “past misconduct” involved illegal sexual conduct with an underage male student. The payments were supposedly made as compensation and an attempt to buy the silence of the person or persons involved. This, of course, was a bombshell revelation. You would expect that a story about a lurid sex scandal, especially one involving a former Republican House Speaker, would stay around for at least a few days. But this one barely survived the daily news cycle. Like a blazing comet in the night sky the story appeared, got everyone’s attention, and then it was gone. The money transfers were real and violations of existing law. The sexual misconduct charges were at that early point still unproved allegations. However, when questioned by the FBI about the illegal money transfers and their intended purpose, Hastert lied to the investigators. This, it should be noted, is a felony.

The charges of sexual misconduct swirling around Hastert are—no matter how lurid—still at this point just allegations. Like any citizen charged with a crime, or crimes, Hastert has a right to his day in court, a chance—if the allegations are false—to prove his innocence. This, however, is a case that will never come to trial. Whether he is guilty—as is speculated in the media—of molesting young boys we’ll never know. Hastert’s plea to a single count of illegal bank money transfers has preempted that. If he is innocent of the sexual molestation charge you’d think he’d be eager for a trial to prove his innocence. Just as curious, if the former Republican Speaker is indeed innocent—why’d he cop a plea?

 "Justice Delayed Justice Denied" by sculptor Raymond Kaskey., 1994. Photo: Dan4th Nicholas Some Rights Reserved.
“Justice Delayed Justice Denied” by sculptor Raymond Kaskey, 1994. Photo: Dan4th Nicholas, Some Rights Reserved.

The answer to these questions is obvious. Republicans are currently energized in trying to produce from their “clown car” debates a viable national candidate to oppose Hillary (or whomever the Democrat candidate might be ) in the coming 2016 election. To say they’re desperate to win back the White House is a gross under statement. The last thing they want is a really lurid sex scandal involving one of their cherished own—a former Republican House Speaker. This is a story that so far has “no legs” as they like to say in the media. Nobody on the Republican side is eager to see the Hastert pedophile skeletons come rattling out of the closet—especially around election time. Not good timing, especially for a political party earnestly trying to regain the White House. Also, sex with young under age boys doesn’t match up well with the GOP’s much vaunted “family values”.

Pedophilia is a serious crime. But according to the recent plea agreement, that is not in the indictment. Neither is there a charge for lying to the FBI. There is just the one count having to do with the money transfers. The question truly begs asking: how could you get any federal prosecutor worth the name to drop the lying to the FBI charge? Makes no sense. Remember that’s how the Feds convicted Scooter Libby (Dick Cheney’s loyal lap dog ). They got him for lying to the cops and the obstruction of justice that goes along with it.

The money laundering and lying to the FBI are charges that alone should be enough to get Hastert a stiff prison term—maybe five to ten years. But if the sexual charges are true (and we’ll never find out if there’s no trial) then this is a guy who should be going away for the rest of his natural life. The Republicans though need to keep this whole sordid affair out of the headlines. This is just the kind of seamy show trial that earnest Republicans don’t want to come up right in front of a national election. So, with the “fix” already in, this needs to be brought to a tidy conclusion, swept under the rug—well before the upcoming election.

It could be that Hastert’s Republican pals might figuratively at least have put a gun to his head and told him something like “we’ll get this reduced to one lesser charge involving just the money transfer violation, and you better accept the prosecutor’s offer. If you start making noises about a public trial we’ll see to it that you spend the rest of your natural life in prison”. This may be the “deal” that Hastert was presented.

Conservatives are always deriding the unfairness and biased reporting by the so-called “liberal media”. Well this is a story that’s been kept out of the public eye and away from the media by the conservatives who own and largely control the liberal media. Hastert will never have his day in court and the public will never learn the truth about this man who once held one of the highest offices in the land. But nobody really seems to care because he’s now just a fat, tired old man with—if the stories are correct—a sick perversion and a lot of wealthy and powerful political cronies who don’t want his secrets to come out and the truth about him made public.

From the public’s perspective, what this really reveals—and what is the most disconcerting—is the gross double standard that exists in our current criminal justice system where there is one set of rules for the wealthy and well-connected to play by, and another set for the rest of us who don’t have the money and influence to buy the best justice that this country has to offer. Given the liberal sentencing guide lines in use today, and the judge’s exercise of his judicial discretion, it’s unlikely that the former House Speaker will go to prison or even do any serious jail time. Probably he’ll just get some form of probation. He will though be joining a long and distinguished list of Republican felons.

What’s most offensive is the blaring inequity of it all, and the complete unfairness in the way we dispense justice today in this country.

It’s not so much that one sick and perverted political hack gets a free pass, that’s almost to be expected given the system. What’s most offensive is the blaring inequity of it all, and the complete unfairness in the way we dispense justice today in this country.

You’ve heard the old slogan, “. . . you do the crime, and you do the time”. That’s especially true today if you don’t have friends in high places or the money to hire the best attorneys and pay for the best defense with a privatized penal system where it pays big corporate dividends to put people ( non-violent one-time offenders ) in prison rather than rehabilitate them back into the society. But what does it matter? Usually these are just poor people, blacks and other minorities. People who are politically insignificant with no money and no real power.

We see it all the time, young black men busted for possession of a small amount of marijuana who end up going to prison for twenty years. Recently there was the case of the unfortunate young black woman in Texas who was stopped for not signaling a lane change. The officer accused her of having used marijuana. A scuffle ensued and she was arrested. Two days later she was found dead in her jail cell, victim of what was alleged to be a suicide, for not properly signaling a lane change. Tragic stories like this are all too prevalent today.

How can you praise a criminal justice system that is so openly biased in favor of defendants with money and political influence and so blatantly prejudiced against the truly powerless in the society? A legal system totally corrupted by money and political influence from the stupidest cop on the bottom to the most prominent and corrupted judge on the top. Whether it’s on Wall Street or the Congress, the real criminals get a free pass.

One Response

  1. Cheryl Sacco

    This is all true of the affluent and how they can get away with the shocking scandals involving underage children. If they have well paid lawyers, they get off. It is very sad that we have such atrocities happening in this country.

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