If you follow politics at all, you’ve probably heard that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been accused of paying well over a million bucks in hush money to silence allegations he molested someone when he was a schoolteacher years ago.
Ruth Marcus, who once expressed outrage a teenager would criticize Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Twitter, is similarly shocked that federal prosecutors are going after Hastert, as well as targeting FIFA (the international soccer group) over the corruption and slave labor involved in preparing for the world cup in Qatar. As noted at the link, her argument is that a)she’s not sure these are good laws (and I would totally agree that it’s a bad thing that lying to federal officials, even when not under oath, is a bad thing) and b)—and this is ultimately the issue Marcus focuses on—that prosecutors should exercise their discretion over which cases to pursue, and not pursue these. Hastert, after all, is a lobbyist, not anyone with influence in Washington, so “what, precisely, is the federal government’s interest — the public interest — at this point in prosecution and humiliation?”
Well, because Hastert is allegedly (and the “alleged” should be kept in mind) using the hush money to cover up sexual molestation of a student. Given that he did, in fact, violate the law to do it (withdrawing big enough sums to trigger disclosure requirements but not disclosing them), it seems appropriate to pursue him. Keep in mind Marcus doesn’t actually object to the laws Hastert broke (at least that’s not a point she makes), only to applying them in this case. So presumably if you’re not an important, well-connected Washington figure, it’s OK.
•The same kind of sloppy record-keeping that bedeviled the mortgage industry in this century can also affect student loans.
Paul Campos makes an interesting point: if this had been structured as a settlement to stave off a lawsuit (Hastert settles out of court, potential plaintiff agrees not to say anything) it would have been perfectly legal.
Slacktivist wonders why Hastert ran for national office with this skeleton in his past. But given he got away with it for so long, I don’t think he was so crazy.
In other links:
•Brits are shocked and outraged by third-world asylum seekers spoiling their vacation.
•Some Men’s Rights Activists are outraged by encouragement to share their feelings. But as We Hunted the Mammoth points out, they’re always sharing feelings. It’s just that they want to share rage.