Thursday, September 2, 2004

What to think...

Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, is catching some heat for this exchange during an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”:

HASTERT: 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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.

So, did Hastert suggest that Soro’s might have gotten funding from drug cartels?

My initial reaction was that “drug groups” meant those who are in favor of legalizing drugs (i.e. Soros and other likeminded individuals). After all, “anti-drug groups” refers to those opposing drug use and wishing to keep them illegal.

Bloomberg News disagrees:

George Soros, head of the 10th largest hedge-fund company, demanded an apology from U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, after the lawmaker speculated that some of Soros's money might come from drug cartels, The Hill newspaper reported.

So does Eugene Volokh:

It's innuendo, but it's pretty repulsive innuendo (at least unless Dennis Hastert has something to back it up)… [T]he suggestion that Soros might be getting money from illegal drug distributors, even as a hypothetical example, is pretty reprehensible.
A Hastert spokesperson told Bloomberg News:

The simple fact is that the Speaker was talking about the fact that 527s are unaccountable and that no one knows where their money is coming from. He never said drug cartels. He was talking mostly about drug groups like Open Society and other groups that Mr. Soros has funded and that promote the legalization of narcotics.

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