CHICAGO (CBS) — Plenty of questions remain unanswered after former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted on federal charges for allegedly trying to cover up apparent hush money payments to a longtime acquaintance.
The longtime Republican lawmaker allegedly paid about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance – identified as Individual A in the indictment – beginning in 2010, to conceal misconduct that occurred years earlier.
Hastert started his career in politics as a state lawmaker in 1981. He served in the Illinois General Assembly until 1986, when he was elected to Congress. He served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 until he retired in 2007. Before entering politics, he was a history teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School from 1965 and 1981.
According to the indictment, Individual A lives in Hastert’s hometown of Yorkville, and has known him most of Individual A’s life.
The biggest question in the case is what misconduct took place that would prompt Hastert to allegedly agree to pay $3.5 million to someone who apparently was blackmailing him.
“Apparently, it’s something that was shameful, or criminal, that he was engaged in that the blackmailer was able to blackmail him about,” said University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson.
CBS 2 Security Consultant Ross Rice, a former FBI agent, said the indictment could be just the tip of the iceberg for Hastert.
“Depending on how this plays out, I think there could be other charges forthcoming. Maybe there has been some sort of plea agreement reached pretrial. I don’t know. I think what’s most intriguing to me is what was the act, or the crime if you will, that he was paying the money to Individual A to keep quiet about?” Rice said.