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The Secret Lives of Dennis Hastert, Bill Pryor, and Other Public Officials Raise the Ugly Specter of Blackmail

Posted on the 09 June 2015 by Rogershuler @RogerShuler

The secret lives of Dennis Hastert, Bill Pryor, and other public officials raise the ugly specter of blackmail

Bill Pryor at

What happens when a married public official presents himself as heterosexual but leads a homosexual life in the shadows? It raises concerns about one of the ugliest words in the English language--blackmail.
We've seen it in Alabama with the rise to power of U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor. We are seeing it now in the fall of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. We are likely to be hearing more about it in the coming days as Hastert appears in court today and his case unfolds--probably with stories of more victims and various politicos who helped cover for the speaker.
Concerns about blackmail prompted Alabama law enforcement officials to open an investigation when they received a tip, not long after Gov. Fob James appointed Pryor attorney general in 1997, that nude photographs of the new AG had appeared at the gay-porn Web site Investigators tracked down the photos and their source--in Monroe, Louisiana, where Pryor attended college. Investigators also conducted surveillance on Pryor's residence in Montgomery and noted a number of late-night male visitors, including one who went on to become a well-known national political figure.
As it turned out, Pryor's secret life actually helped his professional career. According to multiple press reports, certain Republicans hold copies of the porn photos to help ensure that Pryor pushes for favorable outcomes on cases before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In other words, Pryor's dalliance with gay porn makes him vulnerable--particularly since he almost certainly did not disclose it in his Senate confirmation process--and the very conservatives who put him in power use that to make the Eleventh Circuit even more corrupt than it already was.
As for Hastert, an article written after his recent indictment indicates Capitol Hill insiders are abuzz about the possibility that the speaker was ethically compromised because of his secret life. An article from 2011 suggests Hastert's sexual secrets long ago caused him to fall victim to blackmail--on the international stage.
The recent article, titled "Hastert Questions Consume Capitol," comes from The Hill and reporter Scott Wong. Writes Wong:
House Republicans are questioning whether anyone tried to use former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s dark secret against the Illinois Republican during his two decades in Congress.
The Capitol has been abuzz about the Hastert allegations this week, and several GOP lawmakers are raising the specter of whether anyone demanded political favors in exchange for their silence.
“Was there any undue influence able to be imposed based on the knowledge of a secret that could damage him?” asked one House GOP lawmaker, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue. “That’s sort of the scrutiny we all have to endure, and as you look retrospectively now at what we know: Was there an appropriate filter?
“It doesn’t have the same kind of stench to it from a political influence standpoint,” the lawmaker added. “That said, everything starts somewhere.”

Other lawmakers, quoted by name, voiced even stronger concerns:
The fact that the former Speaker put himself in a position where he could have been blackmailed is “nauseating,” remarked freshman Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). For Congress, “certainly it’s a black eye all the way around.”

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), too, is worried Hastert had been “compromised” while serving as Speaker — a powerful job that put him second in line to the presidency.

“Not that our founders were saints, but you’re giving payouts like that, you’re getting blackmailed. It compromises you,” Yoho said in an interview.
“When you become compromised, how does that influence somebody’s decision-making knowing they’ve got something held over their head, someone saying: ‘Yes, you will vote this way.’ ”

An article from four years ago suggests Hastert already has been blackmailed. Brad Friedman published the piece, titled "FBI Whistleblower: Hastert, Burton, Blunt, Other Members of Congress 'Bribed, Blackmailed'", on May 25, 2011, at Huffington Post. Friedman focuses on the deposition of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and she unleashes damaging information about a number of GOP politicos, including former U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) and former U.S. Rep and current U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). But the most alarming allegations involve Hastert.
Here is Friedman's overview of the revelations from Edmonds' testimony:
The under-oath, detailed allegations include bribery, blackmail, espionage and infiltration of the U.S. government of, and by current and former members of the U.S. Congress, high-ranking State and Defense Department officials and agents of the government of Turkey. The broad criminal conspiracy is said to have resulted in, among other things, the sale of nuclear weapons technology to black market interests including Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Libya and others.
Even as many of these allegations had been previously corroborated to varying extents, by a number of official government reports, documents and independent media outlets (largely overseas), not a single major mainstream media outlet in the U.S. has picked up on Edmonds' startling claims since her deposition has been made fully available. . . .
Though Edmonds was careful to not "discuss the intelligence gathering method by the FBI," she notes in her deposition that her claims are "Based on documented and provable, tracked files and based on...100 percent, documented facts."

Here is the key information from Edmonds' deposition about Hastert:
Dennis Hastert: "[S]everal categories. The acceptance of large sums of bribery in forms of cash or laundered cash ... to make it look legal for his campaigns, and also for his personal use, in order to do certain favors ... make certain things happen for foreign entities and foreign governments' interests, Turkish government's interest and Turkish business entities' interests. ... other activities, too, including being blackmailed for various reasons. ... he used the townhouse that was not his residence for certain not very morally accepted activities. ... foreign entities knew about this, in fact, they sometimes participated in some of those not maybe morally well activities in that particular townhouse that was supposed to be an office, not a house, residence at certain hours, certain days, evenings of the week."

Hastert used a townhouse for "certain not very morally accepted activities," and foreign entities knew about?
Those concerned about blackmail in the Dennis Hastert story might be too late. It looks like it already has happened. And one can only wonder, at this point, how many of his allies in the U.S. House knew about it.

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