Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hastert May Be in Trouble, Too

See article in the WP, entitled Speaker Largely Silent Amid Scandal.

It seems that Denny Hastert has been a bit too helpful to DeLay and Abramoff and has benefitted financially in return.

With his affable demeanor and his open-door policy, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert remains unchallenged in the most powerful post in Congress, even as a growing corruption scandal roils the Republican leadership and more Congress-watchers say the speaker bears some responsibility for the troubles that have developed on his watch.

As details emerged about unsavory dealings between lobbyists and lawmakers -- including his top lieutenant, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) -- the House speaker stood on the sidelines. As DeLay's legal peril mounted, Hastert backed him at every turn, attempting to change House rules to allow an indicted leader to stay in power and even altering the leadership of the ethics committee, which had been exposing misconduct by the majority leader.

Only now has Hastert publicly moved to address the ethics controversy, leading a push to tighten rules on lobbying and persuading Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) to temporarily relinquish the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee.

Although Hastert's job appears safe for now, there are rumblings among some lawmakers and aides that he waited too long to act -- and that his prior conduct has eluded close inspection, even when the speaker himself rubbed elbows with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients.

With all the chatter about impeaching President Bush, it pays to take a look at the line of succession:

1. The Vice President Richard Cheney
2. Speaker of the House John Dennis Hastert
3. President pro tempore of the Senate Ted Stevens
4. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
5. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow
6. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
7. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Hmmm.

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