Republican Representative Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the former Speaker of the House, has been charged with evading currency laws and lying to the FBI.
Hastert allegedly agreed to pay a longtime acquaintance $3.5 million to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct,” according to the indictment. Though Hastert gave the unnamed acquaintance, who is from his hometown west of Chicago, $1.7 million in cash, the withdrawals from Hastert’s various bank accounts drew suspicion from the FBI.
According to the indictment, Hastert told the agents: “Yeah, I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing.” He withdrew the money between 2010 and 2014, but in December he began pulling out amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.
Hastert, 73, who is the longest serving Republican speaker, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI. He has been under investigation from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service since 2013.
Hastert stepped down from his position in 2008 and currently works as a high-paid lobbyist. It’s unclear what the alleged misconduct could have been. Neither he nor his legal team have issued a statement about the charges.
“I’m completely surprised and stunned,” said David Winston, a longtime House Republican pollster. “Nothing in my dealings with him that I saw would lead me to think this would have happened.”