When congressmen eventually leave the public trough on Capitol Hill, they regularly move over to K Street to become lobbyists, a richly deserved reward after years of selfless government service. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the longest serving Republican speaker of the House of Representatives when he retired after the 2006 elections, is no exception. He is a senior adviser in the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro, home to former Arkansas senator Tim Hutchinson.
Justice Department records indicate that Hastert will now be “principally involved” on a $35,000-a-month contract providing representation for the Turkish government. He will work as a subcontractor for another former House speaker, Dick Gephardt, who runs the eponymous Gephardt Group.
As Hastert, a former wrestling coach, presumably knows little about the country paying him, his true role will be networking with Congress to block any legislation that Turkey considers to be not in its interest. In that capacity, Hastert would be just one more ex-congressman on the make. But his relationship may be more complicated. FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds claimed that Hastert was investigated by the Bureau for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments from Turkish lobbying groups in exchange for “political favors and information.” Edmonds’s claims have never been pursued, presumably because there are so many skeletons in both parties’ closets. She has been served with a state-secrets gag order to make sure that what she knows is never revealed, a restriction that the new regime in Washington has not lifted.
In Hastert’s case, it certainly should be a matter of public concern that a senior elected representative who may have received money from a foreign country is now officially lobbying on its behalf. How many other congressmen might have similar relationships with foreign countries and lobbying groups, providing them with golden parachutes for their retirement?
Hastert will, according to a letter from Dickstein partner Robert Mangas to the vice president of Gephardt’s firm, be working “in connection with the extension and strengthening of the Turkish-American relationship.” His primary focus will be on the Armenian genocide resolution that has been re-introduced in Congress and already has nearly 100 co-sponsors.
There have been few congressional resolutions as idiotic or harmful to the national interest, but the House seems intent on pressing forward, egged on by a powerful Armenian diaspora concentrated in southern California. Last time around, the resolution passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi intervened to prevent a vote of the entire House, effectively killing the bill. This time that tactic might not work. President Barack Obama has already described the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, though he avoided that word on his recent trip to Turkey.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a fellow with the American Conservative Defense Alliance.