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Poli sci professor weighs in on payments made to Ray LaHood

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PEORIA (HOI) -- Still no word from former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood after the Department of Justice revealed he had accepted $50,000 from a foreign national while serving in the Obama Administration.

The DOJ says in 2012, LaHood sought out someone who would give him the money he needed for house repairs. LaHood found someone to give him that money, Virginia Businessman Toufic Baaklini. However, Baaklini was just a middle man.

Documents signed by LaHood showed he was aware the $50,000 had come from Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. At one time, Chagoury was on the US no-fly list.

"To do something that seems not only out of character but frankly not very smart in terms of putting himself in this position is surprising," said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at University of Illinois Springfield.

LaHood failed to disclose the payment on ethics forms while he was still secretary. After the DOJ investigation, he agreed to repay the $50,000 and an additional fine of $40,000.

"I think this is probably appropriate and falls in the customary kind of level in that this was a matter of financial need," said Redfield.

Andy Weber

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