Stepping Over the Line from Capitalism to Corruption

Denny Hastert and his buddies just can’t seem to keep their hands out of the till. If they’d just be patient, they could live frugally for a few years and then become lobbyists. Instead, they earmarked funds for pork projects at home that allowed them to sell real estate at a huge profit.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made a $2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds.

A Republican House member from California, meanwhile, received nearly double what he paid for a four-acre parcel near an Air Force base after securing $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away. And another California GOP congressman obtained funding in last year’s highway bill for street improvements near a planned residential and commercial development that he co-owns.

In all three cases, Hastert and Reps. Ken Calvert and Gary Miller say that they were securing funds their home districts wanted badly, and that in no way did the earmarks have any impact on the land values of their investments. But for watchdog groups, the cases have opened a fresh avenue for investigation and a new wrinkle in the ongoing controversy over earmarks — home-district projects funded through narrowly written legislative language….

…”The sound bites from politicians have always been that they’re doing what’s best for their districts, but we’re starting to see a pattern that looks like they might be doing what’s best for their pocketbooks,” said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

I’m sure this was all one big coincidence. Uh huh.

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