Some of the stuff reported in Lawmakers Cashing In on Real Estate, Financial Reports Reveal is probably just fine, but here's something really fishy:
J. Dennis Hastert, a former high school teacher and wrestling coach, was first elected to Congress as a Republican from rural Illinois in 1986, showing assets worth at most $270,000. At the end of last year, after his own real estate investments, Hastert had a net worth of $4 million to $17 million.
Hastert followed a similar course, entering the House in 1987 with a 104-acre farm in Shipman, Ill., worth $50,000 to $100,000, and other holdings worth no more than $170,000. When he assumed the job of speaker in 1999, he continued to report modest holdings. Then Hastert began investing money in a series of land deals.
The transactions that brought him the most acute attention involved properties he bought in 2002 and 2004 near Plano, Ill., in partnership with a local Republican Party official. In the summer of 2005, Hastert requested earmarks that would direct more than $200 million in federal funds to a highway project near the land. That December, he sold the properties to a developer for $5 million, making a profit of $1.8 million.