On Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2015 former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) pled guilty to lying to the FBI in a hush-money scheme. According to Fox Hastert agreed to “a deal with federal prosecutors that recommends he serve no more than six months in prison and averting a trial in the case.” It has been widely reported that the payments were meant for an individual as part of an agreement between the individual and Hastert to conceal decades old claims of sexual misconduct.
Hastert was elected Speaker of the House in 1999 after a scandal in the Speaker’s race involving, the Speaker-elect Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) in December 1998. Time reports that after an ad was posted in the Washington Post “offering $1 million to any woman who presented evidence that she had had an affair with a high-ranking government official,” several people came forward say they had affairs with Rep. Livingston. This effectively ended Rep. Livingston’s bid for the Speakership and led to his now infamous announcement “I have on occasion strayed from my marriage.” Following the downfall of Rep. Livingston, Hastert became the clear choice for Speaker. Once elected Speaker of the House, Hastert went on to hold the position for a Republican record of eight years (1999-2007).
After the 2006 election Democrats took control of the House of Representatives leading to Hastert’s decision to resign his seat in the House. The Chicago Tribune reports that “six months after Hastert left Congress, a Washington-based law and lobbying firm, Dickstein Shapiro, announced in May 2008 that Hastert was joining its team as a senior adviser, though he had to wait to become a lobbyist because of a federally mandated cooling-off period.” During his tenure as a lobbyist for Dickstein Hastert was able to grow both his wealth and lobbying reputation, earning the label of “the eclectic lobbyist” from The Center for Responsive Politics.
In May, when Hastert was first indicted he immediately resigned from his position at Dickstein Shapiro, however the damage may have already been done. Still recovering from the loss of several lobbyists to rival firm Greenberg Traurig in the summer of 2014, Hastert was a key figure in Dickstein Shapiro’s plans to rebuild its lobbying practice. However, the Washington Post reports that “five lobbying clients have ended their relationship with Dickstein since July — significant, considering the firm had just 10 lobbying clients on record this year. One of those five clients, Fuels America — a coalition advocating for renewable fuel standards — was Hastert’s client.” This has led Dickstein Shapiro’s chairman Jim Kelly to say, “We are evaluating the strategic direction of our public policy practice…We have a solid group of people upon which to build if we determine additional resources are necessary to serve our clients. Currently, we are happy with our group and the clients we serve.”