Fresh claims about Hastert clash with squeaky-clean image

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former colleagues of Dennis Hastert say allegations of sexual abuse by the one-time House speaker clash with a reason Republicans made him leader — his squeaky-clean reputation.

Former Republican congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia says Republicans turned to Hastert partly because there was no inkling of a hidden past.

Republicans picked the Illinois Republican to become speaker during a frantic December 1998. The House had impeached President Bill Clinton and Republicans desperately needed a new speaker to replace Newt Gingrich.

A federal indictment last week said Hastert paid someone to stay silent about unspecified past misconduct. A Montana woman told The Associated Press this week that she’s told the FBI that Hastert sexually abused her brother in high school, where Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach.

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