What Happened With Denny Hastert In Yorkville?

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A federal grand jury indictment unveiled Thursday against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) revealed next to nothing about the “prior misconduct” he allegedly committed against an individual to whom he paid $1.7 million in hush money over the years.

Editors' Blog

For Hastert, Why 2010?

Yesterday, when the Hastert news first broke, I went in thinking that the timeline made sense because Denny Hastert, like so many other politicians, got an extremely lucrative job as a lobbyist after leaving Congress. When Individual A approached Hastert in 2010 asking for money, that made sense because it was only then that he had the kind of wealth that would make it even remotely conceivable for him to pay out $3.5 million.

I'd assumed that he'd started making money in 2007 from a cold start. But I'd forgotten that Hastert, who entered public life in the middle class, left public office a very wealth man.

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That Reporters' Blindspot

Remember a month or so back when those two gay hoteliers from New York got in a heap of trouble for hosting the extremely anti-gay rights Ted Cruz at a dinner/fundraiser at their luxe New York apartment? But, wait, no it wasn't a fundraiser!

Well, yes it was. The two guys, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass were just getting some good press this weekend in the Times ... finally ... now portrayed as well-meaning but bumbling political neophytes who'd stumbled into the Cruz mess. But now it comes out, after the fairly glowing weekend article and repeated denials, that Ian Reisner actually did give a max-out contribution to Cruz right when the dinner took place.

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Hastert Watch

Having watched many of these stories unfold in real time, I left work yesterday with a sense of foreboding about the late-breaking Hastert story - something like seeing a fuse already lit and waiting for a bomb to explode. And yet, to my great surprise, we're into the next day and no news organization appears to have uncovered, at least in a publishable form, what happened.

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Shock: Blacks Hold Cops to Higher Standard Than Criminals

Brendan James wrote up this column by Rich Lowry in Politico in which Lowry says that to protestors "some black lives really don't matter." In part, this is no more than a more biting version of the old saw of 'why don't blacks get more upset about black on black crime?.' - a high-toned form of concern trolling.

I'm not interested in digging into the outrage tug of war over this. But there's a pretty elemental blindspot to all these arguments.

Let's back up first for some context.

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Hastert Indictment Over Payoff to Cover Up "Prior Misconduct"

It was quite a shock to hear that former Speaker Denny Hastert had been indicted under a law used to prevent people from concealing movements of major amounts of cash. So what could it possibly be about and why was Hastert trying to conceal the movement of roughly $1 million in cash.

We now have the indictment and the charges stem from Hastert's efforts to pay off an unnamed individual to conceal "past misconduct by defendant against [the individual] that had occurred years earlier."

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The Official Opposition?

This is something I've been wondering about for a while. And it is something that is a subset of the point I made last month about the unique nature of the Democratic nomination process in 2016 - with Hillary Clinton so seemingly unchallengeable that the intra-party negotiation and jockeying which normally takes place between rival candidacies has shifted to different factions and constituencies contending over the terms and nature of their support for Clinton's candidacy.

Here's something I've noticed over the last few weeks: The DNC is sending out a lot of Bernie Sanders emails.

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Join our education Live Chat today at 2:30 PM in The Hive

Elizabeth Green, CEO and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, a news site devoted to educational change, will chat with Prime members today in The Hive (sub req).

Green has years of experience in education reporting, having written for The New York Sun, New York Times Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Last year, she published Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). She will be answering questions about her book, the Common Core, teacher evaluations, and the opt-out movement.

Drop your questions here before or join us at 2:30 PM Eastern.

— Joe Ragazzo

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