On Thursday a federal grand jury indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert for breaking banking laws and lying to FBI agents. Prior to his entry into politics, Hastert was a teacher and a state champion wrestling coach at Yorkville High School 50 miles southwest of Chicago. The charges are rooted in a sexual affair with a male student at that school–the over $1 million the man nicknamed “Coach” in Congress was apparently hush money to keep the man quiet.
Amid the reports of the bombshell Hastert indictment was news that legislation authorizing a $500,000 statue of the former speaker for the grounds of the state capitol was introduced earlier this month by state House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who is also chairman of the state party. According to AP, Hastert, citing the ongoing state budget crisis, declined the offer. Or more likely, he saw his indictment on the horizon.
Madigan’s proposed 2016 Illinois budget includes a $4 billion deficit–despite constitutional requirements that the state budget must be balanced. But Madigan, who was arguably the most powerful Democrat in state government even when Illinois had a Democratic governor, somehow found money–or maybe he didn’t–to put the Coach in bronze.
Worse, Illinois’ public worker pensions are unfunded by an astounding $110 billion.
Democrats are not serious about cutting spending in Illinois.
As for Hastert, his speakership was of the Illinois-kind. House Republicans who played Denny’s game were rewarded earmarks–and that reckless spending contributed to the end of the GOP majority in the House in 2006.
The Coach also played footsie with Illinois Democrats–and he was a leader in the bi-partisan graft machine dubbed the Combine by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.
So in a way, while Hastert is deserving in a twisted way of the honor of $500,000 statue, preciously scarce taxpayer funds should not be squandered on this monument.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.