The Illinois News Broadcasters Association is rescinding the Illinoisan of the Year honor presented to former Speaker of the US House Dennis Hastert in 1999. At the time, Hastert was serving as Speaker, and had represented Illinois’ 14th Congressional District since 1987. He retired from Congress in 2007. In 2015, he was indicted for numerous financial crimes related to repeated instances of child molestation, from the time that he was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. He plead guilty and served 13 months in prison. Currently he is scheduled for a July jury trial in Kendall County, in a lawsuit alleging that he has not kept up with agreed-upon payments to one of his accusers.
The decision to rescind the Illinoisan of the Year honor was approved by the INBA Board of Directors at its Winter Board Meeting, after input was gathered from 20 of the organization’s Past Presidents. This is the group that nominates and votes on the award each year.
“We clearly should have done this sooner,” said Immediate Past President Laura Trendle Polus. “But about six months ago someone noticed Hastert’s name on a plaque that we display at our conventions and brought it to a board member’s attention. That started the process. The vote to rescind was unanimous, with several pointing out that we shouldn’t just take his name away, because we should never forget or overlook what he did.”
The part of the plaque that bears Hastert’s name will be re-engraved to add “Rescinded 2020.”