J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, was swept from leadership in 2006 on a wave of Republican revulsion over what critics saw as a legislative favor factory he presided over in Congress. That wave deposited him on K Street, a prime address for the capital’s lobbyists, where his influence and good name kept the favors flowing — including into his bank accounts.
Federal law enforcement agents say Mr. Hastert’s years as a lobbyist and rainmaker explain how he was able to promise $3.5 million in cash to a former student who claims Mr. Hastert sexually molested him decades ago.
A former wrestling coach and high school teacher, Mr. Hastert did not enter Congress as wealthy as some of his colleagues. Yet he was still able to amass a small fortune with land deals, one aided by an earmark he secured for a highway interchange.
But it was at his own post-Congress lobbying firm and at the professional services firm Dickstein Shapiro that Mr. Hastert swelled his cash flow, working all sides of issues and glad-handing members of Congress for controversial clients.
From 2011 to 2014, Lorillard Tobacco paid Dickstein Shapiro nearly $8 million to lobby for the benefit of candy-flavored tobacco and electronic cigarettes, and Mr. Hastert was the most prominent member of the lobbying team.
The Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, labeled Mr. Hastert “the eclectic lobbyist.”Last year, Jessica Brown and colleagues wrote at The New England Journal of Medicine:
Flavored tobacco products are marketed worldwide (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). A 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) report1states, “In view of the little research that has been conducted on flavoured tobacco, the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation . . . urges health authorities to consider public health initiatives to reduce the marketing and use of flavoured tobacco products.”
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration reports, “Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. . . . flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers.”2