POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Financial Wrongdoing By Mid-2000s GOP Leadership Back En Vogue

05/29/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2015

The political world was rocked by the news that a Tom Delay acolyte could be a shitty human being. Most Republican speechwriters spent the day trying to come up with a new way of saying “deeply troubling.” And in an alternate universe, former House Speaker Bob Livingston just signed a lease on an even nicer house and regretted absolutely none of his life choices. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 29th, 2015:

CONGRESS: [0] DAYS WITHOUT A SEXUAL MISCONDUCT SCANDAL - It really does put gawking at Aaron Schock's peacock feathers into perspective. Richard Serrano and Timothy Phelps: "Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday. One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said 'Individual A,' as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said...'It goes back a long way, back to then,' the source said. 'It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.' Thursday’s indictment described the misconduct 'against Individual A' as having 'occurred years earlier.' … Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse. Hastert has not responded to requests for comment. Representatives of his lobbying firm declined to comment. Federal prosecutors alleged that Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to the individual, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks. The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash beginning in 2010 to the acquaintance." [LA Times]

That time Bernie Sanders ran for office while on unemployment.

HASTERT ALREADY SUBJECT OF ANOTHER INVESTIGATION - Sam Stein: "Hastert, like all House speakers, was granted what is essentially a taxpayer-funded allowance to settle and conclude his affairs. He did that by renting and furnishing an office in his old congressional district and hiring three administrative personnel. But the complaint… says that Hastert used his office and a government-funded GMC Yukon to conduct private business and travel to lobbying events. He also relied on his taxpayer-funded staff for a variety of private purposes, including planning a trip to Saudi Arabia to 'discuss private corporate opportunities including an ESPN sponsored golf tournament;' prepping a slideshow 'concerning the private proposal to build a racetrack and technology park in Riverside, California;' and meeting with the United Arab Emirates ambassador to discuss hosting an 'ESPN golf outing and other events in Abu Dhabi.'
It wasn't just Hastert's lobbying business that was being propped up with federal funds, according to the complaint. Hastert used his public office and email account to work with John on fundraising operations for Hastert's public policy center at Wheaton College and the school's wrestling team...All told, Hastert spent roughly $1.9 million of his allowance, about half of what he could have." [HuffPost]

FORMER ABRAMOFF LOBBYIST PISSED ABOUT THINGS CAN'T EVEN - HuffPost Hill's senior political scandal correspondent, the Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed About Things (that's really what he is), is at a loss for words over the Hastert indictment. To put that in perspective, FALPAT hasn't been speechless over a Washington scandal since the Capitol Hill Club stopped its annual Most Dangerous Game hunting trip. "I don't have anything funny to say," FALPAT writes. "Been thinking about it and it is so weird I am speechless." Thanks, FALPAT!

Almost as good as Boss Tweed being sentenced to a jail he helped fund (all while he was being inundated with giant cartoon barrels with the word "CORRUPTION" written on them): "On Oct. 24, 2001, then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), shepherded the Patriot Act through the House of Representatives. It passed 357 to 66, advancing to the Senate and then-President George W. Bush’s desk for signing. Hastert took credit for House passage in a 2011 interview, claiming it 'wasn’t popular, and there was a lot of fight in the Congress' over it. Little did Hastert know at the time that the law he helped pass would give federal law enforcement the tools to indict him on charges of violating banking-related reporting requirements more than a decade later...The indictment suggests that law enforcement officials relied on the Patriot Act’s expansion of bank reporting requirements to snare Hastert. As the IRS notes, 'the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 increased the scope' of cash reporting laws 'to help trace funds used for terrorism.' The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which was amended by the Patriot Act, had already required banks to report suspicious transactions." [HuffPost's Daniel Marans]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Martin Crutsinger: "The U.S. economy shrank at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, depressed by a severe winter and a widening trade deficit. The government's revised estimate for last quarter was weaker than its initial estimate of a 0.2 percent growth rate. The U.S. trade gap -- the difference between the value of exports and the larger value of imports -- was found to be wider than first estimated. And consumer spending was slower than previously thought." [Associated Press]

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KY-GOV BEVIN CINCHES GOP NOMINATION - Samantha Lachman: "Businessman and tea party favorite Matt Bevin on Friday became the official Republican nominee in Kentucky's gubernatorial race after his opponent, Agricultural Commissioner James Comer, conceded the extremely close race. Bevin had led by just 83 votes in last week's primary to succeed Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is term-limited. Comer requested a re-canvass, which was conducted Thursday. But Bevin remained in the lead after election officials checked printed vote totals against the figures sent to the Kentucky Board of Elections. In his concession statement on Friday morning, Comer endorsed Bevin and said he would help him defeat the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway, in November...Political experts in the Bluegrass State have hypothesized that Bevin won because his two main opponents -- Comer and businessman Hal Heiner -- both become entangled in a scandal over abuse allegations leveled against Comer by a former girlfriend. Comer denied the accusations, and accused Heiner's campaign of being involved in spreading them. As the infighting between the two Republicans engulfed the race in its final weeks, Bevin presented himself as an untarnished conservative choice." [HuffPost]

A Pataki-Chaffee 2016 showdown is all but certain: "Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee will officially enter the presidential race on June 3, a source with knowledge of his plans told POLITICO. He’ll make the announcement in a speech he’s scheduled to deliver next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the George Mason Center for Politics & Foreign Relations in Arlington, Virginia. Following the announcement, Chafee will travel to New Hampshire on June 4 for a previously scheduled event with local Democrats in Grafton County." [Politico's Ben Schreckinger and Jonathan Topaz]

NEW HHS CTO WILL TRY TO UN-SUCK HEALTHCARE IT - Welp, the problem is right here *slaps pointer against x-ray of 404 page*. Alexander Howard: "Susannah Fox, an expert on how the Internet affects Americans’ health, is now in charge of improving how the United States government uses technology to deliver and improve health care. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell named Susanna Fox, an entrepreneur-in-residence at at the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, as the health department's new chief technology officer. Fox is the first woman to hold the position. Fox plans to liberate more health data for the public good, nurture entrepreneurial spirit within the immense HHS bureaucracy and highlight how citizens are improving their own health and well-being -- all themes that she’s been passionate about for years. 'The most exciting innovation is not just access to information but access to each other,' Fox told me last June. Digital health care entrepreneurs, academics and patient advocates are thrilled that one of their own will be taking on the role pioneered by former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and extended by Bryan Sivak, who departed from the HHS CTO role last month. So is Fox’s new boss." [HuffPost]

EPA BIOFUEL PROPOSAL ANNOYING EVERYONE - Kate Sheppard: "The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed new volume requirements for biofuels, to a chorus of complaints from all sides… But the changes aren't enough to satisfy critics of the RFS, which include a wide range of both environmental and conservative groups. Groups like the Environmental Working Group have criticized the requirements for continuing to increase the use of corn ethanol, which the group argues actually increases lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing the ethanol blend, said Emily Cassidy, a research analyst at EWG, 'increases greenhouse gas emissions at a time when we really need to drastically curb carbon emissions.' … Conservative groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute argued that the biofuels mandate exceeds consumer demand, and also criticized the EPA for delivering its 2014 standard after the year had actually passed. 'Instead of building a predictable market, the RFS has ushered in a reign of regulatory uncertainty,' said CEI senior fellow Marlo Lewis. 'Another testament to the folly of centralized planning.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a newborn tiger.

COMFORT FOOD

- The Boston Dynamics cheetah robot is getting scarier by the day.

- The video to "Single Ladies" syncs pretty well with the "Ducktales" theme

TWITTERAMA

@jbendery: Josh Earnest confirms Obama is "not spending much time" trolling people on Twitter, now that he's got a Twitter handle.

@fordm: a Chrome script that replaces "according to comScore" with "according to the village seer's latest augury"

@GrahamDavidA: FIFA'S FUTURE: BACK AND BLATTER THAN EVER, OR BLATTERDAMMERUNG?

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