Now that Denny Hastert's secret is blown, does "Individual A" have to pay back the $1.7 million in payoff money?
Denny Hastert is reportedly telling friends, "I am a victim too." And so he is, after the original facts. The feds seem to have weighed his victimhood against his young victim's.
In time we'll presumably find out more about the moment when former House Speaker Denny Hastert realized he'd made a giant booboo. No, not the sexual misbehavior with a high school wrestler he coached -- though there's that, of course. But there doesn't seem to have been any moment when Denny suddenly realized he'd done something that could sink him in deep doodoo.
No, I'm thinking of the moment when, after rifling his many bank accounts for the early payments toward the $3.5 million that his nemesis, known so far as "Individual A," was apparently demanding, it suddenly occurred to Denny -- or he was made by some third party to understand -- that while the withdrawals had been spread over those numerous accounts, the amounts withdrawn from each exceeded government reporting minimums, and the fact of those withdrawals was going to be available to anyone with access to those reports. Because it was apparently only at that point that he began finessing his withdrawals to stay under the $10K reporting trigger. Which, in the event that anyone was of a mind to look into these transactions, was kind of like trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Worse still, in the end it got him in even deeper trouble, because now what investigators had available for investigation was a pattern of deliberate flouting of the banking regulations.
As Howie pointed out in his report earlier today, the early reports on the money-laundering charges against Denny left the infotainment noozers almost comically helpless, wondering what the D-man could have paid out that $1.7 million or so for, and whether it was related to his service as speaker.
And yet Howie had a pretty good idea.
Now everyone is guessing what exactly the "prior misconduct" was that Hastert was trying to cover up with $3.5 million in hush money. The only clues were that it happened in Yorkville where he was the high school wrestling coach and the purpose was to "compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A." The indictment goes on to state that Hastert has known Individual A for pretty much his entire life, indicating that it was probably a younger person. There have long been rumors that Hastert had been molesting his wrestling students, rumors that were fueled once people observed his conduct when he got to DC.It's hard to understand why anyone who's actually in the news-gathering biz should have been as clueless as the infotainment noozers were at least pretending to be before the L.A. Times broke its story today. While it's true that we here at DWT have a luxury of speculation which isn't available to media who at least purport to play fair under the normal rules of sourced information, there were certainly clues in the feds' account, which as Howie noted went well beyond the criminal conduct involved in Denny's bungled money laundering.
What sense could it have made for the feds to be making such pointed mention of Denny's history as a wrestling coach at his old high school unless that was related to the case? Only slightly subtler, since it seemed pretty clear that Denny had been extorted -- no one imagined that he decided of his own free will that he had committed a wrong that he had to try to right with cash -- the very fact of his indictment suggested that prosecutors were making a judgment about the relative culpability of the individual demanding the money and the individual paying the money.
Beyond that, there are those rumors Howie mentioned, and the pattern of behavior he went on to describe of Denny's protection of sexual predators. Maybe I'm making too much of this outbreak of cluelessness among the infotainment noozers. I just find it interesting that once again a heap of information that seems to have available to anyone in DC who was paying attention was so absent from at least the official consciousness of our supposed media insiders. (Which is all the more convenient for them in that the things that were already known and suspected about Denny's past at the time of this "surprising" development were also known and suspected while he was speaker of the House.)
As to the question I posed in the post title, I'm guessing that no, extortion victims aren't entitled to refunds when the secret gets blown anyway. Certainly if the extorter played a role in the blowing of the secret, that would seem to violate standard extortion ethics. But I don't think there's any legal forum for pursuing such a grievance -- and in any case, Denny seems to have forked over less than half of the apparently agreed-upon $3.5 million, so I don't suppose he would have much of a case anyway.