Another politician has shamed the Land of Lincoln.
Prosecutors in the bank fraud case against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert filed documents late Friday outlining his sexual abuse of four male students while he was a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in rural northern Illinois.
One of the victims collected over $1 million in hush money from the longest-serving Republican speaker in history, and it was Hastert’s shifting explanations for his cash bank withdrawals that led to his indictment last year. Hastert pleaded guilty last fall and he’s awaiting sentencing.
Among the revelations from the filing is that the coach sat in a La-Z-Boy chair while watching his wrestlers shower.
So many Illinois pols have disgraced Illinois. I’ll name just a few.
In 1856 Governor Joel Matteson discovered unredeemed scrip that was used to pay Illinois & Michigan Canal contractors when the state ran out of cash after the Panic of 1837. He cashed that scrip.
Len Small was governor for most of the 1920s. He was indicted in 1924 for embezzlement and money-laundering charges that dated back to his time as state treasurer. Small was found not guilty but eight of the jurors on his trial later received state jobs. He was accused of selling pardons too.
While Small was governor Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson was essentially the political arm of Al Capone.
Other Prairie State governors who went to prison include Otto Kerner, who was convicted on mail fraud charges related to the illegal gift of racetrack stock, George Ryan, who ran a scandal-plagued office during his two terms as secretary of state, and Rod Blagojevich, who attempted to shake down a children’s hospital and tried to sell a US Senate seat, among other things.
Another secretary of state, Paul Powell, directed Illinoisans writing checks for license plate or driver’s license renewals to make the checks out to him, not the secretary of state’s office. What could go wrong with that? Powell died in office in 1970 and a few days after his passing over $800,000 in cash was found in his Springfield hotel room, including some in a shoe box.
US Rep. Mel Reynolds of Chicago didn’t even serve a full term in Washington but he still found himself in legal trouble in the 1990s for sexual assault, child pornography, and bank fraud. His prison sentence was commuted in one of Bill Clinton’s midnight pardons of 2001.
Reynolds is in legal trouble again for alleging not filing income taxes.
Some of these “public servants” were Republicans. Some were Democrats.
John Ruberry, a lifelong Illinois resident, writes the Marathon Pundit blog.