Friday, June 05, 2015

Dennis Hastert and Freddie Gray

We still haven't identified Individual A, the man who was blackmailing former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert over sexual abuses that took place when Hastert was a high school coach. But we now know that there was an Individual B. His name was Steve Reinboldt, and he had been an equipment manager (no puns, please) when he was a student in that school. Reinboldt died of AIDS some twenty years ago, but he described the incident to his sister Jolene, who has given a persuasive account to ABC News.

Since the age of consent in Illinois is 17, and since the sister makes no allegation of rape, the wrong done to Reinboldt derives entirely from the fact that Hastert was an authority figure. And make no mistake: That wrong was profound. I'm as infuriated as any of you are by Hastert's behavior, and by his later hypocrisy in assailing President Clinton on moral grounds.

Nevertheless, I continue to question the way the FBI has handled this affair. As others have noted, it is not against the law to withdraw one's own money from the bank. (For that matter, there's no law against paying a blackmailer.) Outrageous as the comparison may seem at first, I think that we can liken Dennis Hastert and Freddie Gray. In both cases, authorities treated a man ruthlessly because he did not offer full cooperation -- and because he was the kind of person that cops usually don't like.

If we are going to be advocates against "police state" tactics, then we must be consistent. We have to decry those tactics when they are used against both people we like and people we don't like.


Anonymous said...

Dennis Hastert deserves no sympathy for anyone about anything, and whether suspiciously withdrawing money - structuring, as it were - is what brought him to the attention of the FBI or if that's just the reason they're giving us, I don't care.

Remember, this is the man who pushed the Medicare Part D plan through Congress by holding the session open all night and effectively blackmailing, extorting, and bribing members of his own caucus into voting for it in order to get it to pass.

I wrote a letter to him back in maybe 2004 or 2005 in which I couldn't wait until the day he was buried in a piano box since they don't make coffins big enough for his corpulent self.

Joseph Cannon said...

Anon, I'm not saying that Hastert is a good guy. I'm saying that if you are against authorities who abuse their powers, then consistency demands that you hold to that stance even when they abuse their powers in order to make life miserable for someone you despise.

If Dennis Hastert can have his life ruined simply because he tried to withdraw his own damned money, or because he made an arguably untrue statement about a non-criminal matter, then what's in store for the rest of us?

Let's say the cops interrogate you about a possible crime. Let's say you happen to be innocent of that crime. And let's say that during the course of that interrogation you tell the cops that you are 36 when you are really 44. Why did you lie about your age? Maybe you did so for foolish reasons -- vanity, or because you've been fooling your romantic partner. The point is, when you lie to the cops about this trivial matter, you could now possibly face charges -- even though the lie had no material connection to a criminal investigation.

That's a bullshit charge.

It's bullshit when it happens to a bad guy and it's bullshit when it happens to a good guy. Bullshit is bullshit.

Dale said...

This is the third victim. Reports say that the FBI has interviewed a second accuser, who thus must be still living. Jolene has a documented history of trying to bring the subject out for decades. Hsstert had the ability to pic proto-gay boys out, ones unlikely to complain too much.

Anonymous said...

There were three counts for making false statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying "any record, document or tangible object" with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist sympathies and for clearing his browser history."

prairieflower said...

The Patriot Act -- which Hastert was instrumental in passing -- contains strict provisions limiting how much money can e withdrawn from accounts. Hastert violated those provisions and it's not a huge stretch to say that throwing his weight around like that (pun neither intended nor needed) terrified his young victims. Karma, baby.