Hastert land profits linked to road bill

June 15, 2006 at 10:31 AM

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., reputedly shared in $3 million land deal profits linked to an Illinois highway bill, reports say.

The Chicago Tribune said the quick profit came on property bought and sold in three years near the route of a proposed freeway in western Chicago. The property near Plano, Ill., was sold three months after the transportation bill was signed into law.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean denied the land, 5 1/2 miles from the proposed Prairie Parkway route, rose in value because of the highway project.

Hastert's annual House financial disclosure report revealed the transaction. A partner, Dallas Ingemunson, told the Tribune the speaker got five-eighths of the land sale proceeds, a reported profit of more than $1.5 million.

The Sunlight Foundation, an ethics advocacy group, charged that the Republican lawmaker sought to conceal his interest by handling the sale through a land trust that did not publicly identify him as a partner.

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