Hastert: Timing of Letter and Fund-Raiser Just a Coincidence

May 25, 2006 4:47pm

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said today that is was "a coincidence" that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff held a fund-raiser for Hastert the week Hastert sent a letter to the Secretary of Interior that benefited some of Abramoff’s clients.  The fund-raiser was held at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Here’s the full transcript of his comments, including his reaction to the ABC News story about him: Reporter: Mr. Speaker, you did right a letter to the Interior Secretary trying to quash the building of this casino that would have competed with the one represented by Jack Abramoff. Speaker Hastert: Well, you know, I’m not sure what Abramoff’s connection was, I really don’t.  Jim McCreary from Louisiana asked us, and 33 of us signed a letter because we also have underlying concerns, and this is venue shopping by tribes, in areas that they weren’t necessarily in before, to put casinos down. We have a problem in Illinois with Miami Indians. In central Illinois, we also have a problem in my own district with the Kansas Potawatomi’s who want to do the same thing. So it was a letter saying this precedent shouldn’t be set. Reporter: And the fact that it was written after you had a fund-raiser at Jack Abramoff’s restaurant? Speaker Hastert: That’s, that’s a coincidence. Reporter: What do you make of the fact that this investigation got out there the same time you have a conflict with the FBI over the Jefferson raid? Speaker Hastert: Well, you know, first of all, what we want to do is not protect people that broke the law, what we need to protect is the division of powers in the Constitution of the United States, and that’s one of the things I talked to the President about, that’s one of the things that we’re concerned about in this issue, and it’s an ongoing discussion that we have.  Now I don’t know if this leak out of the Justice department or wherever it came was a coincidence or not, but I’ll let anybody else connect the dots.  Reporter: Trying to intimidate you? Speaker Hastert: I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know. Reporter: What is your remedy from ABC News right now? What would you like to see from them? Speaker Hastert: That’s something my lawyers are taking care of right now, thank you.

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