disclose, denny

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hastert's War on Drugs

Speaking of Hastert and the War on Drugs (tm) - I'd forgotten about an episode from Sep 2004.

Here's Jack Schafer of Slate in an article called "Dennis Hastert on Dope - Two heartbeats from the presidency, an absolute nut job":
"We enter the Fox News Sunday interview transcript just after host Chris Wallace introduces the subject of 527s, such as MoveOn.org and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Hastert starts complaining about the power flexed by non-political party groups:
HASTERT: Here in this campaign, quote, unquote, "reform," you take party power away from the party, you take the philosophical ideas away from the party, and give them to these independent groups.

You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where—if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I—

WALLACE (interrupting): Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that's what he's been for a number years—George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I'm saying I don't know where groups—could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know. The fact is we don't know where this money comes from.

Before, transparency—and what we're talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check or a $2,500 check or $25,000 check, put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is."
Even Chris Wallace couldn't believe the hatchet job that Hastert was performing. In fact, I imagine that Hastert had to swallow hard when he drew the short straw to pull out the knife at the GOP strategy meeting that week.

Hastert could hardly complain that he probably wasn't the man for the job, given that he himself had taken money from the Turkish drug mafia - could he? (actually, he could probably brag about it and everyone else at the table would have nodded silently)

Apparently Denny got all defensive about it - here's Josh Marshall a few days later:
"You'll remember a couple days ago we noted House Speaker Denny Hastert suggesting that George Soros may get his money from drug cartels or other such groups.

I've talked to reporters who've asked Hastert this around the convention hall. And he's been aggressively restating the 'charge.' I'm told he even shoved his finger in the chest of one of them when repeating it.

Now Soros has written this letter to Hastert, asking him to put up or shut up, or, more specifically "either substantiate these claims -- which you canont do because they are false -- or publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation."
protesting too much, and all that.

Hastert was forced to respond to Soros:
"Dear Mr. Soros:
I never implied that you were a criminal and I never would, that's not my style. I will state clearly that I believe your agenda is dangerous, extreme and wrong for America. I also believe that 527 political organizations set a dangerous precedent for political discourse because we don't know where the money comes from. For all we know, funding for some of the 527s might come from foreign sources or worse. Giving special interests more power and less accountability, while taking power away from political parties is a sad, but inevitable result of the campaign finance law that we enacted into law in the last session of Congress. It is my hope that we will take more effective action in the future to bring more transparency to the political process, as we take equally effective action to limit the power of the special interests."
see chutzpa: (Yiddish) unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity

I don't particularly want to focus on the drug element at the moment - but let's look at two of the above statements:
HASTERT: transparency—and what we're talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check... put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is.
HASTERT: For all we know, funding... might come from foreign sources or worse.
Anyone disagree with that? That sounds pretty reasonable right? "You get a $25 check... put it up on the Internet. " Plain as day, in his own words. I can imagine that statement might find its way into the Vanity Fair LTE and elsewhere in our campaign.

I agree with Mr Hastert - transparency is important, as a matter of course, and even more so when there are serious allegations of wrongdoing. David Rose's article made some very specific allegations - and Mr Hastert could presumably have debunked those allegations quite easily by disclosing his campaign contibution data - for all of his PACs, from 1996 to 2002 - but he refused.

Think about that - Hastert preferred to weather allegations that he was in the pocket of 'foreign sources or worse' rather disclose all his campaign contributions. Let's be clear, the only reason the law was written such that it excluded sub$200 donations was to minimize the required paper work. There's no suggestion that sub$200 donors have any right to privacy or any such thing - in fact, many politicians open their books completely - so Hastert doesn't have any defense, other than claiming 'preposterous' at every available opportunity.

Even when the tenacious Melanie Sloan at CREW filed a complaint with FEC, Hastert proactively stripped relevant information from the data that he sent to FEC - surely it would have been simpler to hand over the information, complete and intact, rather than *ahem* 're-purpose' it for FEC.

He sure is acting like a man with something to hide.

disclose, denny

crossposted at wotisitgood4


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