A Speaker of the House Curse?
On Tuesday, former speaker of the House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty to charges related to lying to the FBI about money he paid to "cover up past misconduct." Prosecutors argue that Hastert paid $3.5 million to “Individual A,” whom other sources say the former Illinois congressman sexually molested when Individual A was a high school student and Hastert was a teacher and wrestling/football coach.
Hastert served as speaker from 1999 to 2007, surrendering the gavel when Republicans lost their House majority in the 2006 elections. Though re-elected to represent his district, he resigned his seat in November 2007. With his new legal troubles, Hastert joins a list of former speakers who left their posts under a cloud, or later found themselves embroiled in scandal. Since the 1930s, only 15 people have ascended to the third most powerful position in government, and misfortune of one kind or another often followed. Four died in office, at least four others were trailed by controversy or regret, and several resigned after their parties’ dramatically poor performances in elections. What follows is a sampler.