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Ex-Speaker Hastert's portrait removed from House hallway

Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 02, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — A portrait of former Speaker Dennis Hastert has been removed from a hallway outside the House chamber, a week after the Illinois Republican pleaded guilty to breaking banking laws in a hush money scheme.

The painting had hung for years in the Speaker's Lobby, a plush area just outside the chamber where lawmakers and reporters congregate.

Its removal comes soon after new Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took office.

Asked for details about why the portrait was taken down, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said: "The speaker believed it was appropriate to rotate in a different portrait."

Hastert pleaded guilty last Wednesday to evading banking laws. He acknowledged in a written agreement that he tried paying someone $3.5 million to hide misconduct decades ago, around the period he was a high school wrestling coach.

Anonymous sources have told The Associated Press that the payments were meant to hide claims of sexual misconduct.

The Speaker's Lobby's walls have portraits of 22 former speakers. Another 28 hang in corridors just outside the lobby.