It took a federal indictment last week for the story to become national news. But it actually broke almost nine years ago, thanks to the investigative work of D.C.-based journalist Wayne Madsen. In fact, Madsen provided details that the mainstream press still seems afraid to touch.
How does a story of national importance stay under wraps so long? For one thing, the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) is a subscription Web site, and quite a few of its stories likely don't get out from behind the pay wall. Also, Madsen seems to draw ire from partisans on the left and the right--not to mention a number of mainstream journalists--probably because of his willingness to tackle stories that insiders would rather stay out of sight.
Madsen saw the Hastert story brewing way back on September 30, 2006. From his WMR post on that date:
Congressional sources told WMR that Hastert, while working from 1964 to 1980 as a popular history/government teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School, in Yorkville, Illinois -- a suburb of Chicago -- was the subject of persistent rumors about inappropriate contact with male members of his high school wrestling team. The culture of the times usually resulted in such alleged behavior being covered up by public and parochial school authorities. However, the rumors were enough for his Yorkville constituency to reject him when he ran for an open seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980. However, Hastert lucked out when another sitting Republican House member who represented the three-seat district had a stroke and declined to run for re-election. The GOP machine bosses selected Hastert as the replacement candidate.
Madsen followed up on October 2, 2006, with a report about Hastert's role in the Tom Foley (R-FL) scandal, involving sexually charged electronic messages to under-age males serving as Congressional pages:
In August 2004, the GOP House leadership, which included Speaker Dennis Hastert, then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt, took no action against Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida for his repeated salacious contact by email with underage male teens even though a heterosexually-married Republican congressman resigned over trolling gay web sites for 'younger men.' In August 2004, one-term Republican Rep. Ed Schrock of Virginia resigned after it became public that he was surfing gay and dating web sites in search of younger men for sex. Schrock, a political ally of his Virginia Beach constituent TV evangelist Pat Robertson and a retired U.S. Navy Captain, resigned after he was outed by a Washington, DC web site.
It is now being reported that the House Page Board chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) actually enabled Foley to meet an underage pages for dinner dates after the House GOP leadership were aware of Foley's inappropriate communications with the teens."
How deep did the GOP cover up go? Madsen addressed that question, and it includes some very big names in Republican circles:
The House GOP leadership that now stands accused of covering up the scandal includes the GOP members of the House Page Board, Representatives John Shimkus of Illinois and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia; House Speaker Dennis Hastert; Majority Leader John Boehner; Majority Whip Roy Blunt; and National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Reynolds, who reportedly received $100,000 from Foley campaign coffers after he was first informed of the allegations against the Florida Republican.
Hmmm . . . John Boehner, of Ohio . . . Roy Blunt, of Missouri. Those names certainly are familiar to most anyone who pays the slightest attention to political news. Hastert has rubbed shoulders with heavy hitters for quite a while. In a post dated October 7, 2006, Madsen provided disturbing insights into Hastert's personal life:
The rumors about another top GOP member of the House being involved in sexual encounters with young "men for hire" are confirmed to WMR by well-placed sources in Washington's gay community. The member in question is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, whose "alternate" life style is the primary reason for him and his staff covering up the scandal involving ex-Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley and his lewd messages sent to underage male congressional pages. Hastert's penchant to receive anal sex is well-known to our sources in DC's gay community. Additionally, Hastert's reported extremely small penis is the subject of many jokes among Washington's gay circles.
In July , Hastert was hospitalized at Bethesda Naval Hospital for cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection. In the Feb. 7, 2003 issue of AIDS Treatment News, doctors reported that they saw 'a large increase in aggressive, antibiotic-resistant 'staph' (Staphylococcus aureus) skin infections in gay men in some areas -- and a separate epidemic in certain prisons. Symptoms include boils or blisters; treatment can be difficult, and sometimes requires hospitalization. One HIV doctor in Los Angeles who used to see about one case a year is now seeing two a week. In the past this infection occurred mainly in hospitals.' The reports of serious skin infections among gay men was also reported in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 27, 2003.
On October 9, 2006, Madsen wrote about Hastert's unusual relationship with chief of staff Scott Palmer, a story that had drawn the attention of Lawrence O'Donnell at Huffington Post:
There is also much focus on the relationship between House Speaker Dennis Hastert and his chief of staff, 56-year old Scott Palmer. Hastert and Palmer, Hastert's longtime unmarried adviser, live together in a DC townhouse along with Hastert's Deputy Chief of Staff, Mike Stokke, while Hastert's wife Jean lives in Yorkville, Illinois and stays at a hotel when she visits Washington. [Mrs. Hastert even stayed at a hotel, instead of her husband's townhouse, when she traveled to Washington on Valentine's Day in 2007].
WMR has also learned of additional Senate links to the Pagegate scandal. There is much focus on GOP Sen. George Allen's predominantly white male staff. There is also interest in the activities of a senior GOP Senator from a Rocky Mountain state. [That senator turned out to be Larry Craig (R-ID) who resigned in 2009 after he was arrested for trying to engage in homosexual activity with an undercover vice cop in a men's room at Minneapolis International Airport].
Madsen hinted that Hastert and other Republicans were involved in dark activity on an international scale:
WMR's State Department sources have also reported that the visits of Hastert and other congressional leaders and staff members to certain Southeast Asian nations and the Northern Marianas should come under the scrutiny of the House Ethics Committee, now officially investigating 'Pagegate.' The Northern Marianas became infamous in the scandals involving Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff because of the presence in the US slave labor territory of Asian children being used as prostitutes. Conveniently, Foley co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which would have had authority to investigate charges of child prostitution in the Northern Marianas.Hastert visited Vietnam, along with Palmer, in April of this year and spent three days in the country. Hastert, along with Illinois GOP Rep. Ray LaHood, canceled a visit to Thailand and Vietnam in January 2006. Hastert was also in Thailand in January 2002."
Moving to present day, Madsen notes in a post dated May 29-31, 2015, that other journalists long have scoffed at his reports on Hastert:
Our in-depth reporting on Hastert and "Page-gate" and the pederasts within the GOP received a harsh reaction in the DC media. Wonkette, a blog then written by the current reporter for The Guardian newspaper Ana Marie Cox, wrote this about our reporting: "The problem is, Wayne Madsen just makes shit up. We hear from well-placed sources that no one is having sex with Dennis Hastert. Scott Palmer may be remarkably close to his boss, but he’s not blind." Cox, whose Wonkette reports contained a number of unusual references to anal sex, earned the nickname, "Anal Marie Cox." By attacking the messenger, Cox, like so many of her fellow whitewashers in journalism, was rewarded with her present gigs at The Guardian and GQ magazine.
WMR stands vindicated by the federal indictment of Mr. Hastert.
Wayne Madsen, indeed, stands vindicated. To put it bluntly, he kicked the rear end of most everyone in journalism on the Hastert story. I'm sure a letter of apology from Ana Marie Cox is in the mail at this moment.
Meanwhile, much remains unknown about the Hastert scandal, so Wayne Madsen is likely to have more opportunities to break big news.