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Janice’s Journal: Two Heart Beats Away from President

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Dennis Hastert was two heart beats away from serving as President of the United States. That is, if both the President and Vice President had died while in office, Hastert would have stepped into the Oval Office and assumed the leadership of this country.

The fact is that Hastert was a member of the U.S House of Representatives for 20 years, representing a Congressional district in Illinois from 1987 to 2007. The fact is that Hastert became the Speaker of the House in 1999 and is the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House.

The fact is that prior to his political career, Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach for 16 years. It was during that time that, according to recent reports, Hastert inappropriately touched a high school student. The reports came to light when it was discovered that Hastert evaded bank reporting requirements by withdrawing about $1 million in small amounts in order to pay that student to remain silent.

If the reports are true, Hastert has violated at least one sex offender law and could be required to register as a sex offender. If the reports are true, a sex offender was only two heart beats away from becoming President of the United States.

To many, Hastert had a distinguished political career and made many positive contributions to the nation before, during and after he served as a member of Congress. To many, Hastert is a Christian who has led a law-abiding life and never served a day in jail. To many, he is also a husband, a father and a grand father.

What is the difference then between Hastert and more than 750,000 individuals labeled as sex offenders in this country?

The answer is opportunity. Hastert was given an opportunity to make positive contributions to the nation. He was unburdened by a conviction for a sex offense. He was unburdened by the label “sex offender”.

Imagine then the contributions that could be made if those labeled as “sex offenders” had the same opportunity as Hastert. The United States would undoubtedly be a better place.

— by Janice Bellucci

Read all of Janice’s Journal

Join the discussion

  1. David

    Thank you for your important thoughts on this matter, Janice. I, for one, am a very active member of my community, attending everything from zoning hearings and CERT disaster trainings to District Council townhalls and neighborhood association meetings. And despite my picture being on the Registry website, I intend to continue participating in every way that I can law-abiddingly do so. This is my country, my State, and my home – and I will continue working to make them better, safer, and fairer for all those who live here whether resident, registered citizen, undocumented, homeless or incarcerated.
    (Remember, as soon as we stop defending our rights, someone will gladly try to strip them from us.)
    Now, if we could just do something to rid politics of hypocrits!

  2. Bluewall

    Yes.. if given the chance without fear .. To be able to walk outside and not wonder if I’m going to be fired, attacked, or any other given bad things that can happen because of my sex offense…. one day hopefully

  3. Clark

    Under the table payoff to keep quiet kept republican baster ..I mean haster from being a registered sex offender….
    Can you dig it….the hypocritical agenda they put on others but NOT onto themselves speaks volumes of fascists in a title of power and a crime for all except for the few who can cover it up….this registry is a fraud and sham…..that baster ..I mean haster and orange county calif secret hide trial have helped prove that.

  4. Q

    Not one bit surprised to hear this. This nation is corrupted by hypocrites from top to bottom. These men and women make a mockery of the law and justice

    Look at the sex offender (I believe the reports are true) in the picture and tell me there is not a double standard in this country.

  5. curiouser

    I think it’s important to look at this from a removed perspective. While some might dislike Hastert for his politics, or love him for the same, he is no different than any other person who did something he undoubtedly regrets. He has had a remarkable professional career and by all accounts, a stolid family life. As Ms. Bellucci so eloquently stated, he has had an opportunity to make some remarkable contributions to this country. He was unburdened by the stigma of the “sex offender” label because, as many of the pitchfork and torch carriers, his sins were never discovered in an early morning raid on his home, or by something found on his work computer. In that regard too, he is no different from a great many people.

    As many of us have opined, many individuals of power and influence who scream the loudest against the sex offender are hiding some dark secret of their own. It is rare that they are dragged into the searing glare of public humiliation as so many of us have been, whether that is due to money, power, luck or a combination of all three.

    Maybe events such as those that have happened to Mr. Hastert and Mr. Foley will have a positive impact. It may serve to narrow the gap between “them,” the moral and noble defenders of the masses, and “us,” the dirty, perverse miscreants who must be beaten into the shadows. One can only imagine what Mr. Hastert was thinking when making his comments on Mr. Foley back in 2006: “That could have been ME?”

    In the end, maybe this will convince the pitchfork and torch set that the only difference between “them” and “us” is their good fortune. Maybe when one of those political power brokers reviews the next piece of legislation aimed to carve some more rights away from a registered citizen, he or she realizes, “This could be ME.”

  6. B

    There is another side of the coin. Is there someone who believes that Dennis Hastert is a threat to his community and ought to be registering as a sex offender? I don’t. And I don’t think that hundreds of thousands of people who did exactly what Hastert did (and far less than what he did) are any more of a danger. Just as Hastert never had an onramp to the registry, there ought to be many off ramps for registrants.

    • curiouser

      Very well stated

    • Harry

      Because Mr. Hastert, was the head cheerleader for AWA, after the sex abuse and cover-up, makes him the poster child for SOR. I would like to use this as an example, to the public, that pushers for tough of sex offenders laws are likely sheep in wolves clothing.

      • Timmr

        Hey, Janice please send this article to Mr. Hastert for contemplation. I wonder if he would be able to appreciate the irony his life has become.

      • B

        I am reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger who was a famous cheerleader for Jessica’s Law. During the start of his campaign for Governor, there were numerous accusations that he had sexually assaulted women while he was a powerful movie star. Some have said that he hired or persuaded publicists to go to these women and get them to agree to write a book about their experiences with a huge advance payment on the book. Part of the agreement was that they could never tell anyone about the sexual assaults until the book came out. Obviously, the books would never be written or published and the truth was contractually concealed. But for this power and money, would our former governor be a RSO?

        • JM

          It was also reported in a news segment, at the end of his term, that Schwarzenegger had sex multiple times with a 16 yr. old years before. I watched that interview of the women describing their “affair” in detail. Of course it was quickly brushed under some rug. Yet, he had no problem sending others to prison and a life of misery for the same offenses.

    • Timmr

      I think we ought to close all the on ramps to this registration Highway to Hell with all its destruction of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all those on the blacklist, and get us back on the Constitutional road leading to a More Perfect Union.

    • Q

      I think he should be arrested and prosecuted; dragged through the mud and held up to public ridicule, be forced to register as a sex offender and placed on the web site for life. He shouldn’t get a free pass just because of who he is and what he has done. There are many better men and women forced to register because they are not ion the public light and well connected with other hypocrites in high places. The fact that his kind always slime their way out of living by their own laws is BS. I’m always amazed when I hear other registrants standing up for his kind. The fact of the matter is that the law is the law; he did what he did. He has to be held accountable or it’s all a farce.

      • Margaret Moon

        I understand your anger, Q. Respectfully, I still have to ask you what would be gained by the arrest, adjudication, incarceration, registration, etc. of Hastert at this point? He and his family are being “dragged through the mud and held up to public ridicule” now.

        There are undoubtedly lots of people who “got away with it.” They just don’t happen to be public figures. I think the point is that the punishment heaped upon “sex offenders,” and their families, is dehumanizing, ineffective, and often unconstitutional. Instead of wishing it on others we need to work to reform it.

        • NotLikingCalifornia

          Are you saying he shouldn’t face the consequences of his crime or that what he’s gone through has been consequence enough?

        • Timmr

          Molly, I agree with you even though I keep feeling that if one person does something and is punished, another person who does the same thing ought to be punished in the same way. But I think you are saying we have to get beyond that.
          Anyway, wasn’t there a story in the New Testament about Jesus forgiving someone he met on the road. I remember the critics called Pharisees who hung around him most of the time and his own disciples chastised him for doing this. Hey, they told him, don’t you know who this guy you forgave is? The worst of the worst. Others have been damned to Hell for what he did. Are you sure you should forgive him?
          OK, I am really paraphrasing on sloppy memory here, but I think the point was this:
          OK, Jesus thought that what this guy would do in future, given the opportunity, was more important than what he did in the past. So he decided to give him a second chance.
          So, Molly and Janice, what I think you are saying is that let’s turn this around, instead of punishing Hastert like everyone else, work towards giving the other 750,000 people like him, but that weren’t as lucky as him, the chances he had.

        • Q

          Hi timmr; They are the ones that need to get beyond that. I think we have been willing to, and have acted on that belief for a long time now; and what has it gotten us? An avalanche of laws aimed at us that all have to be fought in court battles that take considerable time and resources, that aren’t always available, etc, etc, etc.

          (ps) Did you watch a few years back when the congress convened and awkwardly said the pledge of allegiance omitting the word God?

        • Q

          Hi Margaret 🙂

          Allow me to answer your question with a question.

          What has been gained by the arrest, adjudication, incarceration, registration, etc of most people on this site? Public safety? A reduction in crimes associated with the new definition (things that are not sex) of sex? Has all this brought us closer to one nation under God? Is America a safer place because of finger pointing hypocrites like John Dennis Hastert? I think not.

          They (John Dennis Hastert and his kind) have advocated what amounts to a wedge/division of the people in this country and shouldn’t be allowed to profit from their lie. My thoughts and opinion have not changed.

          Public figures; especially public figures, should be held accountable for their crimes. These kinds of people are part of what America has been turned into; a fiefdom where a few do whatever they want regardless of any laws (even their own) while the rest of the population are held to the strictest standards; even when it’s a lie.

          Lie = the opposite of truth.

          Everything said about the registry, associated laws, those of us forced to register, is a lie, sold to the people for the personal gain of the few.

        • Tired of hiding

          Well stated and I fully agree with you. He should actually have it worse for being a hypocrite and lying to get his job in the government.

          He most certainly should have his face shoved in the mud and I for one would gladly hold it down so he could take his last breath!

          All the years he and people like him have taken away from hundreds of thousands of us! I am an atheist so I don’t believe in that nonsense but if there were a HELL he has his seat already reserved and waiting!

        • NPS

          Disturbing mentality. You display the exact same sentiment as those who rant the very same against RSOs. You aren’t any better. I suggest you seek therapy. I say this in all seriousness because our community doesn’t need the voice of a person who promotes violence.

        • Q

          Hi NPS;

          I think you should take tired of hiding’s comment with a grain of salt. Nobody is perfect and I think most of us get angry and offended once in a while. I know I do; it would be abnormal not to. I totally understand where tired of hiding is coming from.

          I hope you click on the link

          and see the sampling of the things bad laws facilitate. People like John Dennis Hastert and his kind support these kind of laws. If you never get upset once in a while perhaps it is you that needs help. You must realize; not everyone thinks like you, nor does everyone express themselves in the same way. With all due respect, you should try to grow a thicker skin, as you do not know what tired of hiding and others have experienced.

        • NPS

          Q. Frankly, my skin is quite thick. In fact, I let most things slide off my back considering what I’d gone through with OC Jail. Everything else is a cake walk. But you’re right, I don’t have the experiences he or anyone else has had. I’m not publicly listed. I had a supportive probation officer. I had a supportive therapist. I never had a home visit. Police tell me to live my life because they aren’t looking for people like me. I’m on a travel clearance never having to go through TSA. I realize I’m lucky. But that doesn’t mean that I have to stand in support or understanding of TOH. I do not nor have I ever advocated violence and TOH is certainly not helping the cause. If there was some sort of “ignore” button on this site, I would’ve used it on TOH a long time ago. What we all need is solidarity, but TOH is obviously an outlier, and frankly not someone I’d ever be associated with not because of registration status but because he has a lousy attitude.

          There is no use in me getting angry or upset. It’s just needless negative energy. I find other ways to fight this; writing letters, sending emails to my state rep Mark Leno, making phone calls. Frankly TOH needs to either put up or shut up. Since he advocates harm unto others, I’d rather he shut up. Now, where’s that ignore button?

        • Tired of hiding

          The only thing you ignore is reality. Glad you are having an easy time of it…money helps heal all wounds.

          You are far too passive to be of any use to anyone. Being passive and letting people treat you like a second class citizen is why this has gone on for so long.

          The squeaky wheel gets the grease baby and I am all about making noise. I don’t need an ignore button for you. I can do that all by myself.

          In the future try to refrain from slandering me as you do not know me at all (yes, I know you don’t want to and the feeling is mutual) and suggesting any sort of violent behavior from remarks write on an online forum is irresponsible of you.

  7. mike r

    There won’t be any charges for sexual misconduct because they say there isn’t enough evidence to convict him. What bs thousands of people are convicted with far less evidence just on the word of a aledged victim. This guy is caught paying that victim off and that’s not proof enough. It sure would be for anyone without money. Wow shouldn’t surprise me but wow.

    • Clark

      Let him be setup in orange county …..on word alone ..they will overcharge a case..they can get baster guilty in orange county and he won’t have to be in the trial proceedings ANYWAYS…get him shipped to oc ..baster just got GOT.

    • Fed Up

      Too long ago, past the statues of limitations to prosecute.

  8. anonymously

    mike r said “There won’t be any charges for sexual misconduct because they say there isn’t enough evidence to convict him. What bs thousands of people are convicted with far less evidence just on the word of a…”

    Or I heard some say that there won’t be any charges because the Rehnquist SCOTUS decided sex crimes can’t be prosecuted from that far back. But, I saw some victims rights type people on some legal website talking about trying to get that Rehnquist court decision overturned, under a different SCOTUS of today with a few different members, and then Hastert could be prosecuted hypothetically, as could John Walsh. Hastert having to register does seem like overkill and he is in poor health. I think diabetes.

    • Q

      “Hastert having to register does seem like overkill and he is in poor health. I think diabetes.”

      It may be overkill, but do you think the courts would care about, let alone consider, if one of us were suffering ill health? This guy needs to be made an example of; and if it kills him then he can explain himself to God and all the dead registrants and innocent family members that have been murdered because of laws conceived and supported by people like him. And if it doesn’t die, then he can join RSOL and fight to right some of his wrongs.

  9. anonymously

    As far as making Hastert and Walsh register as SO’s if the Rehnquist Court decision is overturned, I would say Yay to Walsh having to register, and Nay to Hastert having to register. After all, Walsh was unrepentent and seems to have bragged about his crimes, whereas Hastert seems more aware of right and wrong. I think Hastert, at least realizes he is a hypocrite and thats why he paid to cover it up.

    • Tired of hiding

      WRONG – he paid them off so that he would not be arrested – PERIOD.

      He knew perfectly what he was doing was just the opposite of what he preached! He is just evil. PERIOD

  10. Eric Knight

    Unfortunately, this incident will probably be taken up in Congress to create a law to “incentivize” states to drop statute of limitation laws for sex offenses. (“Incentivize” is a “nice” way of saying “change your laws or we withold your money.”)

  11. mike r

    Lil by lil the gov is enchroaching .on our rights and the ignorant masses won’t see it coming because their blinded by hate and disgust for rso. Our constitution and everyone’s rights aren’t going to mean squat pretty soon and that’s a shame considering all the lives that have been lost in vain to protect our civil liberties if our country stays on this same path. My greatgrandfather grandfather and dad all served to protect our rights only to have the politicians and courts ignore those sacrafices and our bill of rights. Disgusting.

  12. Q

    Dennis Hastert seems to be getting a taste of what many of us have gone through. I’m sure he will eventually come out smelling like a rose, but my hope is this (3rd in line for president) high profile individuals self created plight will soften the obstinate hearts of many of the hard liners in relation to these useless laws, statutes and everything else. This could very well start a new set of dominoes (unconstitutional laws) falling.

  13. David

    Q, you are quite the optimist! History shows that the hard-line right don’t “evolve” to show any compassion until circumstances affect them directly & personally. Example: conservative Ohio Senator Rob Portman “evolving” his view on gays when his son, Will, came out.
    Until S.O. laws affect their brother, son, etc, they will not change. Besides, they’re all buddies, right? Yet far enough removed to comfortably distance themselves from Mr. Hastert.

  14. anonymously

    I said “Hastert having to register does seem like overkill and he is in poor health. I think diabetes.”

    Q said “It may be overkill, but do you think the courts would care about, let alone consider, if one of us were suffering ill health? This guy needs to be made an example of; and if it kills…”

    Joe said ““On March 19, 2015, Farnham was sentenced to eight years in prison. U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang also ordered Farnham to pay a $30,000 fine. He must surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons by May 19, 2015, to begin serving his sentence.[15] Farnham has pulmonary fibrosis, bladder cancer and hepatitis C, and is expected to die within three months.[16]” ”

    The California Supreme Court did consider the medical conditions and needs of the plaintiffs in Taylor. I think one of them had extensive medical needs and was living in the cold outside in an alley. I think courts do consider the health of defendants. Whether they believe what the defendants attornies claim is another story. By the account of Farnhams attorney, Keith Farnham should be dead in 9 days, on June 19, 2015. We’ll see. Democrats do seem to throw their own to the wolves moreso than Republicans when it comes to sexual misconduct. Weiner, got ousted and shamed. Vitter gets redeemed and is looking to be Governor of Louisiana. Foley’s evidence is not acted upon and no charges filed, due to Hasterts help of his fellow offender Congressman buddy Republican proponent and architect of SORNA. Bob Filner, Democrat Mayor of San Diego, thrown to the wolves. You get the idea. So now that both sides, prosecution and defense in the Hastert money laundering case don’t object to having a judge with ties to Hasterts son and has a history that includes donating to Hastert, we’ll see if Hastert gets off on the charges. Republican that he is. But even if convicted, Hastert will not have to register, since he is not on trial for sex crimes. Hastert paid the hush money to protect his reputation from crimes allegedly committed decades ago and we have no reason to believe there are more recent crimes, but I guess it is possible since he had this great false sense of security attributed to himself by his tough on crime posturing. I wonder if Hastert and Chris Smith travelled together at all. But back to the point of Hastert having to register. What I said before about Hastert and Walsh having to register, that’s just my opinion about if I think they should. Not what I predict will happen, as I predict both of them will never have to.

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