How Did Denny Hastert Even Have $3.5 Million for Payoffs?

Like Harry Reid, Denny Hastert entered Congress as barely middle class and left it a multi-millionaire (Senators make $174,000 a year -- good money but not enough, I would think, to have $3.5 million tucked away to hand out as cash).

Here is an example:

It wasn’t long after that the Sunlight Foundation reported on just how much Hastert thought himself qualified to steer earmarks back home. The foundation found that Hastert had used a secret trust to join with others and invest in farm land near the proposed route of a new road called the Prairie Parkway. He then helped secure a $207 million earmark for the road. The land, approximately 138 acres, was bought for about $2.1 million in 2004 and later sold for almost $5 million, or a profit of 140 percent. Local land records and congressional disclosure forms never identified Hastert as the co-owner of any of the land in the trust. Hastert turned a $1.3 million investment (his portion of the land holdings) into a $1.8 million profit in less than two years.


  1. Joe:

    I believe that Peter Schweizer wrote a book about this very subject

  2. David:

    I suspect that if you look up the Hebrew & Arabic term "baksheesh" you might find it informative...

  3. randian:

    Land deals are all about insider knowledge of zoning and development proposals, but there is no prohibition on using such to your advantage. This could be legit, unlike the land deals Harry Reid was involved in. Note that Senators are exempt from insider trading law, so killer stock picks can also make them big money (such as foreknowledge of a drug approval).

  4. herdgadfly:

    Naming only Hastert and Dingy Harry is not justice to the money-making factory that is the U.S. Congress. The ones that were punished for getting caught are few and far between when compared to the Pelosis, Conyers, Clintons and Gephardts - and hundreds more that have never been charged with crimes. When is the last time we heard of a banking or post office scandal? When is the last time we ran a sting operation to catch favors for sale? Then there was John McCain and the S & L cover-up.

  5. Ike Pigott:

    The real shocker is how poor Joe Biden is. He is either the most ethical Senator in recent memory, or was just too stupid to figure out how to parlay his seat into a golden parachute.

  6. Richard_Iowa:

    It sure isn't because of his charitable giving. He is running around, what??, $100 bucks a year. Your latter suggestion deserves additional consideration, however.

  7. Richard_Iowa:

    Denny Hastert is mentioned quite prominently in Peter Schweizer's book, "Throw Them all Out: ..." Yep, he worked the system to line his pockets.