Monday, June 19, 2006

Hastert profits personally from pork barrel spending

Who needs lobbyists and their bribes donations when you can make a killing on your own earmarks?
The complex structure of a real estate transaction in Kendall County last December left House Speaker Dennis Hastert with a seven-figure profit and in prime position to reap further benefits as the exurban region west of Chicago continues its prairie-fire growth boosted by a Hastert-backed federally funded proposed highway.

Instead of cash, Hastert (R-Ill.) took most of his share of the proceeds in land, some of it less than 2 miles from the parcels he and two partners in a land trust sold for nearly $5 million to a developer who plans to build more than 1,500 homes and commercial space on the property near Little Rock and Galena roads in Plano.

Hastert received five-eighths of the proceeds of the sale, which worked out to a profit of more than $1.5 million for him on property that he and his partners accumulated in a little more than three years.
He, of course, took the proceeds in land instead of cash to avoid paying capital gains taxes. No point in giving something back to the people, who he bilked by manipulating the system, and the land will only go up in value while they hold onto it for the required year's time.
The speaker has long been a staunch supporter of the proposed Prairie Parkway and helped secure more than $200million in federal funding through an earmark in federal transportation legislation last year.

Hastert press secretary Ron Bonjean said it is wrong to think that the speaker's backing of the parkway could positively affect his property investments because they are 5 miles from the proposed path of the highway. "It's too far away to have an effect," Bonjean said, adding, "The speaker has bought land like every American has a right to. . . . He is not benefiting from the parkway."
Right. Residential land abutting a noisy highway where all you hear is the semis driving by is much more attractive than a bucolic parcel where birds serenade you to sleep, yet is within easy driving distance to the access point.

Granted there is nothing illegal about this and if an ordinary citizen had done it, we might say he was a good businessman. But it strikes one as unethical to use your inside knowledge of government projects, that you engineer yourself, to profit in the private sector while you're still in office.
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