Further to my recent posts (here and here) on Hastert and Sibel regarding Hastert's lawyer's letter in VF, Miguel writes in again:
"Whatever Hastert sent to the FEC was based on the inquiry that was opened by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. In other words, Hastert may have been asked to itemize the previously unitemized contributions as part of FEC enforcement. We can't really say for sure what he sent because FEC is mum about ongoing investigations.I must admit, i didnt know that CREW had filed against Hastert, or that there was any activity on this front at all. Here's CREW's press release:
The reporter's name is Ed Fanselow. The newspaper has pulled down his articles but one remains preserved here from Liberty Post, a right wing blog:
Note Fanselow implies that the Hastert campaign will have to go back and itemize previously unitemized contributions. But the Vanity Fair letter implies it is standard practice for Hastert to track his small contributions."
"WASHINGTON - August 16 - Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into whether Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s campaign committee illegally accepted campaign contributions from foreign nationals in 2000 and 2001.CREW's efforts apparently led to this in December:
CREW based its complaint on an article appearing in the September issue of Vanity Fair in which it was reported that former F.B.I. translator Sibel Edomonds reviewed wiretap recordings involving an F.B.I. target at Chicago, Illinois’s Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. According to Ms. Edmonds, the recordings indicated that an F.B.I. target had arranged for tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to be sent to Rep. Hastert’s campaign committee in small (i.e., less than $200) checks that did not have to be itemized.
Hastert for Congress received $110,860.75 in unitemized contributions in 2001 and $72,275 in unitemized contributions in 2000.
Federal election campaign law strictly prohibits foreign nationals from making political contributions and prohibits political committees from accepting campaign contributions from foreign nationals.
“The sheer number of small contributions should have raised a red flag. Hastert’s campaign committee was obligated to ensure that no laws were being broken. It is now time for a thorough investigation into Hastert’s finances.”
Contact: Naomi Seligman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 202-588-5565"
"Mike Dorning, The Chicago Tribuneit's unusual for Repugs to pull the partisanship card when they are in trouble...
December 12, 2005
When Vanity Fair's September issue included a sensational and unproven accusation that House Speaker Dennis Hastert accepted a bribe to sideline a measure criticizing the Turkish government, the irate Republican leader and his staff immediately suspected the handiwork of a political enemy.
The object of their suspicion, according to two close Hastert advisers, is Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic congressman and former Clinton White House operative whose home district lies 14 miles from Hastert's suburban Chicago constituency."
The Ed Fanselow articles that Miguel mentioned are as follows. First there was this (i think) dated on or about 8/18/05:
"WASHINGTON — A magazine story alleging a covert relationship between a group of Turkish nationals and House Speaker Dennis Hastert has prompted a group of leading Democrats to call for a federal investigation into the claims.which apparently triggered an email from Sibel to the journo, leading to this article a couple of weeks later
The story, published in the September issue of Vanity Fair magazine, relies on an uncorroborated account from a former FBI translator, who says she overheard Turkish wiretap targets — who were the subject of counter-intelligence investigations — brag of funneling thousands of dollars into Hastert's campaign fund in exchange for political favors.
The translator told the magazine that the donations were to be made in payments of less than $200, which do not have to be itemized under Federal Election Commission rules.
The Yorkville Republican himself was never heard in the recordings, the translator told the magazine, and the story's author admitted that the Turks supposed claims may have been nothing more than "hollow boasts."
Still, the story caught the eye of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which on Tuesday filed a complaint with the FEC calling for "a thorough investigation into Hastert's finances."
The group, founded by the former senior counsel to House Democrats, was responsible for drafting a complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, for which he was admonished last year.
In a written statement, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan suggests that the translator's claims warrant a closer look since Hastert recorded an inordinately high amount of small, unitemized donations between 1996 and 2002.
According to the FEC, the Hastert For Congress Committee reported more than $480,000 in donations of less than $200 during that 7-year period.
By comparison, DeLay reported receiving less than $100,000 during the same span.
"The sheer number of small contributions should have raised a red flag," Sloan said.
John McGovern, a Hastert spokesman, called the allegations "outlandish."
"These are ridiculous and reckless claims from a Democratic front group that have no basis in reality," he said Tuesday. "It's just not true."
According to the Vanity Fair report, the Turks were apparently looking for Hastert to help derail a 2000 House resolution designating the killings of thousands of Armenians in Turkey during the 1920s as genocide.
The controversial issue has long been a source of hostility between the two countries as well as between Americans of Armenian and Turkish descent.
The magazine alleges that Hastert originally supported the resolution, only to reverse his position and withdraw it from consideration on the House floor.
Another Hastert spokesman told the magazine, though, that the speaker's about-face came only after a personal appeal from then-President Bill Clinton.
"To insinuate anything else," the spokesman said, "just doesn't make sense.""
"We newspaper reporters get a lot of e-mail.(that email address is at the paper which he apparently has since left - i've sent him an email at the dailyherald.com which appears to be his latest gig)
Some are pats on the back for a job well done; most are complaints about a name spelled wrong or some minor detail that got left out.
I got about a dozen e-mails earlier this month after I suggested in this column that Aurora's Jim Oberweis might want to reconsider his run for the Illinois governor's mansion. (I'll leave it to you to guess whether those letter writers agreed with me or not.)
I must admit, though, that it's not every day I get an e-mail from a bona fide undercover FBI operative.
But such was the case last week, the day after I wrote a story about former FBI interpreter
Sibel Edmonds and some surprising accusations she made involving a certain Republican from Kendall County.
Her story is featured in the current edition of Vanity Fair magazine — the same issue, mind you, with a cover spotlighting a half-clothed Jennifer Aniston and the headline, "Jen finally talks."
The Interpreter's story doesn't start until page 264, but once you get there, it's hard to put the thing down.
Among other things, she alleges that while translating FBI counter-intelligence wiretaps on a group of Turkish nationals back several years ago, she overheard the men talking about a clandestine relationship with a prominent American politician they called "Denny Boy."
The Turks, she says, were bragging about paying Denny Boy thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for some political favors.
The payments — if The Interpreter's story is to be believed — were to be made in small (less than $200) donations to his campaign fund, which don't need to be itemized and can't be traced by the Federal Election Commission.
Denny Boy, in case you haven't figured it out, is none other than Speaker of the House
Denny Hastert, whose office was none too happy with me when I decided to re-tell The Interpreter's story in last Wednesday's Beacon News.
The speaker's press spokesman, John McGovern, did his best to dissuade me from writing, saying that the allegations were nothing more than "reckless" and "ridiculous" lies.
And maybe they are. In fact, they probably are.
After all, the whole tale sounds more like the plot of a bad post-Sorkin episode of the West Wing or some far-fetched movie thriller starring Harrison Ford.
Which brings me back to that e-mail from The Interpreter.
"If the allegations are so ridiculous," she wrote me, "why doesn't the Hastert Campaign simply release the names of all of the small contributors, the amount of the contributions and the date they were received?"
It's a fair point.
Would it be that difficult for Denny's staff — God knows he's got enough people working for him — to go back into their files and itemize all the small checks his campaign received between 1996 and 2002?
As The Interpreter wisely points out: "The fact that the contributions didn't have to be itemized doesn't mean that the campaign is precluded from itemizing them."
As a matter of fact the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign published every single donation they received, no matter how small, on its Web site.
You could argue, I suppose, that piecing together every last cent of almost $500,000 in donations now, long after the fact, would be quite a tedious task.
Doing so would also lend credibility to a story that the mainstream national press (The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, et.al.) has decided to ignore thus far.
But it also might give some peace of mind to the hundreds of loyal Hastert constituents who read about the accusations in The Beacon News last week, not to mention the countless Kendall County farmers and soccer moms who stumbled across the Vanity Fair story while trying to catch up on the Jen-and-Brad saga.
After all, it's many of those same people whose $50 and $75 donations presumably comprise that $500,000 chunk of unitemized donations that's now in question.
Like I said, this whole thing is in all likelihood nothing more than a fairy tale out of control.
But just in case it's not, I think we here in Denny's district deserve to see the proof.
Ed Fanselow covers state and local politics and Aurora City Hall for The Beacon News. He can be reached at (630) 844-5957 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Incidentally, while researching this post, i stumbled across this which appears to add some nuance as to why Hastert pulled the genocide resolution. to the extent that it is true:
"Back in October 23, 2000, the Turkish newspaper Sabah published an article that sounded too bizarre to be taken seriously at the time, but in the light of recent revelations, it now merits a second look. Sabah reported that in order to persuade Speaker Hastert to block the Armenian Genocide resolution, “the Chairman of AIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] met with Hastert and explained to him ‘all the concerns in plain English.’” The AIPAC Chairman then reportedly pressured Hastert by telling him: “You may well gain a few more Armenian votes, but have you stopped to consider how many Jewish votes you will lose by this?”----------------------------------------------
Sabah further reported: “Another Jew had come down from Chicago and put the squeeze on Hastert because they had financed the Republicans to the tune of $10 million or more.” Hastert agreed to block the Armenian Genocide resolution on condition that Pres. Clinton make such a request in writing. Sabah reported that a “Jewish Turk from Istanbul” then contacted former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres who in turn persuaded Clinton to write the requested letter. Hastert used Clinton’s letter as a cover to pull the resolution from the House floor."
I've emailed CREW to see if they have any new news, and/or new approaches given the latest letter from Hastert's lawyer.
I'm trying to track down David Rose's email in the meantime - but i won't contact him till i've at least seen Evans' letter and Rose's response - that would be dumb!