by Bill Allison, Sunlight Foundation
The biggest scandal involving former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has little to do with the one he faced in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges this week. It has much broader implications than his earmarking some $207 million for a highway project that helped him make a $2 million profit selling land he’d acquired a few months before.
As bad as the rumors swirling around Hastert’s conduct that led to his current legal problems, as bad as his indifference to corruption among his colleagues while he was speaker, perhaps worse was his use of a vehicle known as an Illinois land trust within his profitable land deal. “Under a land trust,” the website of the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation states, “the identity of the real owner is never disclosed to the public.” Read the entire story.