Hastert Looks Away For A Price

Dennis Hastert was caught looking the other way recently with the Foley scandal. However looking the other way from those who are being abused for the sake of the abusers and their power is not uncommon for Mr. Hastert. This last episode is just a time when he was caught doing so, because he has often put protecting political power above his duty to protect children.

Take for example the May 24, 1999 ABC News program 20/20 and a report by Brian Ross. His report was on human trafficking on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory and the protection of the abusers by the Republican Leadership in Congress. Brian Ross reported on the findings of a human rights activist group, Global Survival Network, from the American island of Saipan.

Thousands of women from across Aisa were brought through an immigration loophole to American soil to supposedly work as waitresses in restaurants or nightclubs. “Once they got there, they were told they had to do more than that.” said Steve Galster, Executive Director of Global Survival Network. He went on to say, “We’re talking about forced prostitution.”

Many of the women are teenagers. The report told the plight of one such 14-year-old girl, named Katrina (not her real name), who was recruited from the Philippines. She said on the program according to the transcript, “Once a customer bit my breast. But the boss told us the customer is always right. It was my first time to dance naked, and I was ashamed.”

Brian Ross of ABC reported that Katrina told federal investigators that she signed an official Saipan government affidavit, thinking she was going to be a waitress and ended up forced into live sex acts on stage.

Congressman George Miller of California has been trying for years to get legislation passed to stop this abuse of young men and women but has had all his attempts stopped by Speaker Hastert and until recently by his mentor Rep. Tom DeLay.

“Clearly, you have a situation where business and government have come together and really promoted the exploitation of foreign workers, workers who are brought to Saipan.” Said Rep. Miller.
The exploitation does not only include nightclubs and sex shops, but also the sweatshops in the garment industry.

Congress could have fixed this by simply saying that the immigration laws and labor laws of the United States apply to Saipan as well. Yet due to the efforts of Rep. DeLay and to Speaker Hastert’s efforts Congress has turned their backs on the children forced into sex shops and sweatshops.

It is also widely known now that Jack Abramoff, then a lobbyist with Preston, Gates, and Ellis, represented the Northern Mariana Islands on the Hill. For example $500,000 was donated to DeLay’s phony U.S. Family Network in 1997 by the owners of textile companies who operated sweatshops using exploited teenagers, according to tax records. The textile owners, according to the Washington Post, with Abramoff’s help- solicited and received DeLay’s public commitment to block legislation that would alter immigration or labor laws pertaining to the Mariana Islands.

Even though Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said the Speaker has no connection to Abramoff, phone records from as far back as 1997 show that even then Hastert’s most trusted right- hand man and Chief of Staff Scott Palmer had many communications with Abramoff. Also Abramoff and his clients paid over $100,000 to Hastert, more than any other member of congress.

Another example of Hastert’s taking money to look the other way is when, shortly after he became Speaker, Rep Franks (NJ) introduced HR1621 to prohibit CNMI from using labels, which read “Made In the USA”. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Trade in the House Ways and Means Committee on May 11, 1999. The House leadership then killed the bill. Shortly after the bill was killed by Hastert he received his pay, in the form of more than $20,000 from the sweatshop owners of CNMI to his Keep Our Majority Leadership PAC.

In 1998 Katrina testified before the House of Representatives. She ended her statement with these words: “Please change the laws to help the other girls and workers. Please change the laws to make bad bosses go to jail and have a lesson. That is the only way to change the CNMI. Otherwise human beings will still be treated like animals. Young girls like me still dance naked in bars instead of go to school. They still learn to be prostitutes. They will have no childhood.
Please give me and the others justice. Everybody is expecting justice from you because we have been waiting too long.”

The child workers of the Mariana Islands are still waiting. Denny Hastert continues to refuse any action to be taken to stop the abuse. Unfortunately for the children Speaker Hastert is busy looking the other way.