Hastert Portrait Removed From Speaker's Lobby

From left, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Cantor, Boehner and Hastert, as the Illinois Republican's speaker portrait is unveiled. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's portrait has been removed from the Speaker's Lobby, a week after he pleaded guilty in a hush-money scheme. The Illinois Republican's portrait, which was in a place of honor alongside other former House speakers, was replaced Monday with a painting of former Speaker Frederick H. Gillett, R-Mass., who held the gavel from 1919-1925.  

The decision was made by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., in one of his first official acts on the job.  

"The speaker believed it was appropriate to rotate in a different portrait," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.  

Hastert pleaded guilty to evading federal bank reporting requirements. He was indicted in May for paying $3.5 million in small increments to cover up "his past misconduct" against "Individual A" and seeking to conceal the acts, including lying to federal agents. The New York Times and other publications reported the past misconduct was linked to decades-old allegations of sexual abuse of a former student, when Hastert was a high school wrestling coach and teacher.  

In the wake of revelations of Hastert's alleged misconduct, Republican leaders stayed silent on how to handle the controversy, and whether to remove Hastert's portrait from its place of honor. Former House Speaker John A. Boehner opted not to take down the portrait in what would have been a significant, if symbolic, gesture.  

The portrait, unveiled in 2009, cost $35,000 in taxpayer money , according to the Chicago Tribune.  

Hannah Hess contributed to this report.    

Related: Hastert Pleads Guilty in Hush-Money Scheme Sexual Allegations Follow 'Sparse' Indictment of Hastert See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.