George Soros – Drug Kingpen?
WALLACE: Let me switch subjects. You both had very deep reservations about McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform before it was passed. In fact, I think you say in your book, Mr. Speaker, that you thought it was the worst piece of legislation that had been passed by a Republican Congress since you’ve come to Washington.
Now that everyone seems upset with these so-called independent 527 groups, whether it’s MoveOn.org on the liberal side of the spectrum or Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the conservative side, do you feel like saying, “I told you so”?
HASTERT: Well, you know, that doesn’t do any good. You know, but look behind us at this convention. I remember when I was a kid watching my first convention in 1992, when both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party laid out their platform, laid out their philosophy, and that’s what they followed.
Here in this campaign, quote, unquote, “reform,” you take party power away from the party, you take the philosophical ideas away from the party, and give them to these independent groups.
You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money. I don’t know where Ã¢€” if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I…
WALLACE: Excuse me?
HASTERT: Well, that’s what he’s been for a number years Ã¢€” George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he’s got a lot of ancillary interests out there.
WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?
HASTERT: I’m saying I don’t know where groups Ã¢€” could be people who support this type of thing. I’m saying we don’t know. The fact is we don’t know where this money comes from.
Before, transparency Ã¢€” and what we’re talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check or a $2,500 check or $25,000 check, put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is.
I saw this exchange yesterday morning and was definitely scratching my head. I find Hastert likeable enough–I’m almost finished with his autobiography which I’ll review here soon–and presume that he meant this as a silly hypothetical rather than a rather sinister smear. But he certainly should have made that clearer, especially after Wallace’s incredulous reaction. Hastert’s larger point about the 527s being less transparent than the parties is true but it was made in almost the most hamhanded way possible. Hastert is a pretty levelheaded guy and not known as a partisan nutjob. Soros is a bit on the kooky side but, so far as I know, earned his billions honorably.