A former assistant U.S. attorney says a guilty plea by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert likely would be an attempt to keep secret the circumstances behind the accusation that he violated bank laws and lied to the FBI about it.
In the indictment against Hastert, the federal government accuses him of violating banking laws by paying off "Individual A" to prevent some unspecified past misconduct coming to light. Prosecutors say the Plano Republican is expected to plead guilty later this month.
A guilty plea heads off a trial, where "Individual A" could be called as a witness.
"A guilty plea will clearly take out of the equation the identity of this individual," said former U.S. Attorney Ricardo Meza of Arlington Heights, who is not involved in the case.
Meza, now an officer with Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale in Chicago, is also the former Illinois executive inspector general.
But can Hastert really be guaranteed that information will remain secret forever?
After all, soon after Hastert's indictment, a woman from Montana came forward to say her brother -- who had died in 1995 -- had been the victim of sexual abuse while on Hastert's Yorkville High School wrestling team.
That claim wasn't related to Hastert's criminal case, but it was reported anyway.
Meza says there's no guarantee that wouldn't happen again, whether it be a leak from court sources, a friend of "Individual A" or the actual person someday talking.
"There's no way to prevent that, and it could clearly happen," he said.
When all else fails
As the most powerful politicians in the land feud over Illinois' budget -- now for more than 100 days -- a suburban mayor has set a summit next week to try to save his city's nonprofits that the state isn't paying.
Elgin Mayor David Kaptain says Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger is planning to attend a meeting Tuesday aimed at finding out more about how Elgin agencies are suffering and whether the city can provide bridge loans to help them keep operating.
The move seems to be a relatively unique in Illinois, but Kaptain says the problems aren't.
"I think a lot of larger cities are having the same problems," Kaptain said. "It's more than the city of Elgin."
Help me, help you
Mostly, Kaptain says he just wants to hear from nonprofits about their problems. And he wants to hear solutions from them, too. If their services overlap and consolidation might save money and better help residents, that might be the way to go, he said.
Roskam for Ryan
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, has joined many of his colleagues in backing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to be the House's next speaker.
"I'm not running for speaker," Roskam says. "I'm actively supporting Paul Ryan. He would make a great speaker."
The leadership gap has raised a lot of speculation about the future for Roskam, who last year was part of the House GOP leadership team.
Republicans are leaning hard on Ryan, but if he doesn't run, let the speculation begin again.
State Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst is among the new round of Jeb Bush supporters in Illinois announced by the campaign this week, along with Sen. Karen McConnaughay of St. Charles.
Nybo wasn't shy about touting the Bush organization in Illinois, where it can be tough for candidates to get on the ballot.
"I would venture to say that no one is on top of this or as ready to go as Gov. Bush," Nybo said.
He drew a timely comparison between Illinois' March primary and the middle innings of a baseball game.
"In a race like this, it may very well come down to the depth of your bench," Nybo said.
In other words, the candidates who survive the early innings of Iowa and New Hampshire will win or lose the primary race down the stretch in states like Illinois.