Managing Principal Steve Nelson discusses Dennis Hastert’s multiple sources of income in an article for the Chicago Tribune.
By Katherine Skiba and Angela Caputo | June 2, 2015
Former House speaker Dennis Hastert was making $165,200 a year in 2007 when he resigned from Congress, and quickly parlayed his political experience into a much more lucrative career as a federal lobbyist.
One industry expert estimated that a lobbyist with Hastert’s background today could bring in at least $1 million a year. On top of his lobbying work, Hastert made substantial sums from sitting on corporate boards, giving speeches and consulting.
And he continues to collect three government pensions that in total exceed $100,000 a year.
Hastert, 73, was charged last week in a federal indictment that said he agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money over past misconduct over a person who knew him for most of that person’s life. Law enforcement sources said the misconduct was sexual in nature and happened when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in far west suburban Yorkville.
Officials said he had withdrawn $1.7 million in cash to give to “Individual A” since June 2010. His income in recent years makes clear Hastert wouldn’t have had much trouble coming up with the millions of dollars he allegedly promised.
The longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, Hastert had accumulated wealth mostly in real estate when he left Congress in November 2007 as a rank-and-file member, having earlier surrendered the speaker’s gavel.
He and his wife, Jean, reported a net worth in the range of $2.1 million to $10.3 million in a financial disclosure statement at the end of 2007. Much of that was in income-generating farmland in Illinois and Wisconsin, the disclosure said.
Hastert joined the Washington-based lobbying firm of Dickstein Shapiro in 2008 but couldn’t lobby on behalf of clients right away because of a cooling-off period required of former lawmakers.
Before his resignation from the firm last week, Hastert did work for companies including Lorillard Tobacco , ServiceMaster and the shipping giant Maersk Inc. His lobbying disclosure reports, which date to 2009, show in roughly six years his clients paid Dickstein Shapiro more than $11 million.
His biggest client was Lorillard, a Maryland-based cigarette maker that paid Hastert and colleagues almost $7.9 million.
A lobbyist’s compensation is not disclosed in federal reports, which ask for an estimate, rounded to the nearest $10,000, of lobbying-related money paid by clients.
But according to Steve Nelson of The McCormick Group, an executive search firm in Arlington, Va., a House speaker going into full-time lobbying today would command at least $1 million a year and probably closer to $2 million.
Dickstein Shapiro did not respond to Tribune questions Monday.
Hastert also lobbied on behalf of Oak Brook-based CenterPoint Properties, which develops, owns and manages industrial real estate and related rail, road and port infrastructure in the Chicago area. CenterPoint paid Dickstein Shapiro $170,000 to lobby from 2009 to 2014 in an attempt to shape energy and waste-disposal policy along with Environmental Protection Agency regulations, reports show.
Naperville-based PolyBright International Inc., a lighting technology company, also paid $20,000 for Hastert to keep tabs on federal energy-efficiency standards and the 2009 stimulus bill.
Hastert also represented the government of Luxembourg, where his ancestors lived, and the Republic of Turkey