Speaking of the Speaker…

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So is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., under investigation because of his relationship to Jack Abramoff, as ABC reported last night, or are we to believe the denial issued last night by the Justice Department? (Since when does the Justice Department comment on who’s the subject of an investigation? My understanding was that officially, they neither confirm nor deny…)

To paraphrase Sammy Hagar, only time will tell if this comes out in time, but meanwhile, we can amuse ourselves by digging into the Speaker on our own. On his 2004 personal financial disclosure form (filed in 2005), he notes that he purchased a “1/4 interest in 69 acres” in Plano, IL, for somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000, on Feb. 17, 2004. Who owns the other 3/4s? Where are these acres exactly? I don’t know, but it’s certainly worth finding out.

Hastert is fond of Plano; in 2002 he and his wife bought a property there for $2,125,000 (it appears their down payment was $100,000 — or less than 5 percent of the purchase price). There’s a nice write up describing the property here, thanks to Citizens against the Sprawl Way in Kendall and Kane Counties. They note,

Ironically, the new Hastert farm would have been in the path of a proposed western route for the beltway, considered by the Illinois Department of Transportation but abandoned in favor of the corridor further to the east. Hastert sold his home on Highway 34 east of Yorkville, a location facing increased traffic and congestion as the highway was widened to four lanes.

When the Hastert’s sold their Highway 34 property, they divided it in two: they got $130,000 from a couple for part of it (presumably the part with their house) while the rest went to something called MPI-2 Yorkville Central LLC, which is developing houses–and its own vision– in Yorkville. That company, by the way, is a joint venture of Moser Enterprises; putting in all those neighborhoods of luxury homes wouldn’t be practical without wider streets serving them. It appears the Hastert’s picked a good time to indulge seek their bucolic pleasures in a new location.

Hastert has done well financially for someone who, as his official biography notes, has spent his entire life on the public payroll (or, as the bio puts it, “rose to his position as Speaker of the House from the cornfields of Illinois”). His work resume reads something like this:

Teacher and coach at Yorkville High School, 16 years Illinois House of Representatives, 6 years Representative from Illinois, 20 years (the last 8 as Speaker).

Pretty good for government work…

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