Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hastert's laundry

There's one part of the dodgy Hastert real-estate deal that I haven't seen answered. Was the property Hastert's primary residence? I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere that it was. If it was his primary residence, he doesn't have to record the asset/transaction/mortgage in his financial disclosure forms.
(update: the house was his primary residence, according to this)

Beyond that, I seem to have caught Hastert telling lies on his financial disclosure records.

Update: this post is a bit of mess. The significance of the information here, if any, is that two days after Duke Cunningham was exposed, Hastert rushed to file an amendment to his financial disclosure records - adding his $2million home/farm.

According to the Washington Post:
"In 2002, Hastert was driving to a parade in Sycamore, Ill., when he saw a post-and-beam house he fell in love with, according to Dallas C. Ingemunson, a longtime friend and ally of Hastert's who made the land deals for the speaker. Hastert struck a deal with the owner on the spot, purchasing the house near Plano, Ill., and 195 acres for $2.1 million."
In Hastert's 2002 filings, there was no mention of the property - no asset, no liability, no transaction, and no mention of his home/farm.

The same is true for the 2003 filing.

WaPo again:
"In February 2004, Ingemunson, treasurer of Hastert's campaign committee and chairman of the Kendall County Republican Party, established Little Rock Trust #225. A week later, through the trust, Hastert and his business partners purchased a 69-acre parcel for $340,000, providing road access to part of Hastert's farm that had been landlocked. Hastert owned a quarter of that parcel."
On May 16, 2005, Hastert filed his personal 2004 financial report. Hastert listed his share of the 69-acre parcel as :
Asset Value
1/4 share, value $250k-$500k

Transaction Value
1/4 share, value $250k-$500k

Mortgage Value
1/4 share, value $250k-$500k
Note: I'm pretty sure here that we've caught Hastert, or someone, in a mistake. Hastert is clearly saying in his filings that his one-quarter share is worth between $250-500k - but WaPo appears to say that these 69 acres are worth $340k in entirety, and Hastert only has a quarter share.

Having said that, the media reports are quite confusing

Here's how SunTimes describes it:
"Ingemunson told the Sun-Times that the three bought the 68.9-acre parcel from a farmer who wanted "to have cash immediately." Klatt, Ingemunson and Hastert formed a trust, which bought the land in 2004 for $15,000 an acre -- a total price of slightly more than $1 million."
SunTimes suggests that the total price for this block was $1.05M. WaPo says the price was $340k. Hastert says that his quarter share was worth between $250-500k - which would appear to sugggest that WaPo is wrong. Where did WaPo get their $340k number from? I'm sure that number didn't come out of the blue. WaPo - where did your $340k come from?

"In May 2005, Hastert transferred the 69 acres of previously hemmed-in land from his farm to the land trust."
The exact date of that transfer is not obvious - was it after or before the original filing on May 16? (note that this 69-acres that Hastert transferred to Little Rock Trust is separate to the 69-acres that Little Rock Trust bought from a third-party.)
(update: the transaction occured May 2, 2005 (link))

Lo, just one month after that filing, on June 14 2005 Hastert resubmitted both his 2003 and 2004 filings in "an abundance of caution" - without adding any detail about why he was resubmitting it. The 2005 amendment of the 2004 records adds:
Asset Value
1/4 share, 69 acres- value: $250-$500k
Home/Property - $1m-$5m

Home/Property - $1m-$5m
(Note that this was the first time that Hastert's 'home/property' was disclosed in his personal financial records. why did he include it if primary residence is always exluded? )

Do you think that it was all completely above-board? or was Hastert's retrospective accounting somehow related to the deal that took place in May 05?

(updated 10 minutes after publication to add that Hastert's 'amendment' occured 2 days after Stern's original article about Duke Cunningham's real-estate deal hit the wires)

Similarly, I haven't been able to ascertain how much Little Rock paid Hastert for the transfer of the other 69 acres. Did Hastert pay taxes on it? Was it all a fuzzy 'book exercise'?

"Then, on Dec. 7, (05) Little Rock Trust #225 sold the Hastert parcels to a subsidiary of the Robert Arthur Land Co. for nearly $5 million. The deal netted Hastert a $2 million profit."
*In December 2005, the 68.9-acre parcel and the 69.5-acre parcel were sold to a developer, which wants to build at least 1,700 residential units plus commercial space there.
It's all a bit confusing. At a minimum, we can see that he amended his financial disclosures with respect to this particularly dodgy investment.

First things first - Hastert appears to have not originally disclosed the Plano asset in his disclosure forms. Can any journalist out there check to see if it was actually his primary residence? Also - presumably WaPo's $340k number came from somewhere. where?

And the ultimate question, was Denny trying to launder his bribes?

update: miguel in the comments points to this post at Sunlight Foundation which notes that the property was indeed Hastert's primary residence.


Miguel said...

I don't know if you put this link, but that is the organization that is raising the issue.

Miguel said...

I think the issue of whether Hastert used this land deal to launder his alleged bribes is worth looking at (yeah, Mr. Evans, if you're reading this blog, it's our constitutional right to raise such questions). Here's the reason: land sales are a good way to launder illicit funds. I think this happened in the case of Florida Rep. Bill Nelson during the BCCI scandal as well as with Randy Duke Cunningham.

The laundering usually seems on the 'sell' side, but in this case, it would be good to find out where Hastert's funds came from- cash, a mortgage, from whom?

The buyer does not raise any red flags on first inspection, but ya never know.

It might be a fishing expedition, but fishing is one of my favorite sports...

lukery said...

the mortgage is from the Yorkville National Bank - for more than a million.

he also sold a couple of other properties that year, raising a little bit of cash