Here’s a graphic timeline explaining how House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) used a federal earmark to turn a $1.5 million profit:
August 2002: “Hastert and his wife bought a 195-acre farm in Plano in 2002, of which 69.5 acres had no access to roads.” The parcel is located in Hastert’s congressional district (IL-14).
February 2004: Hastert and two partners purchase another 69 acres adjacent to the original property. Here’s a picture of the two parcels, outlined in yellow:
August 2005: Hastert secures $207 million in federal dollars to build the “Prairie Parkway” through his district. The Chicago Tribune describes it as a “pet project” of Hastert’s that will “cut through valuable farmland and increase suburban sprawl.” President Bush comes to IL-14 to sign the bill. Here’s a picture:
Here’s an overlay of Hastert’s property and the new highway, shown in green. The highway is just 5.5 miles away:
The “Prairie Parkway” transforms the Hastert property from an isolated parcel to one with convenient access to major cities.
December 2005: Hastert sells property to the Robert Arthur Land Company, who plans to builds 1500 homes on the property. Hastert earns at least $1.5 million in profit. His two partners makes another 1.5 million.
May 2006: The Kendall County Board votes “in favor of putting an interchange on Galena Road, giving residents of the new development easy access to the highway.”
TODAY: Hastert’s spokesman claims, “None of the properties purchased by the speaker are near enough to the Prairie Parkway to be affected by the proposed highway.”
More at the Sunlight Foundation.
UPDATE: Using Google Earth a commenter at the Sunlight Foundation concludes that the distance between the entrance to the highway and the Hastert development is 2.6 miles. (Hastert’s spokesman says it’s 5.5 miles.)