The federal judge overseeing the criminal case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will continue to preside over it, even though he made campaign contributions to Hastert, as neither the prosecution nor the defense see it as a conflict of interest.

During Hastert's arraignment Tuesday, Chicago U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin acknowledged that in 2002 and 2004, he contributed $500 and $1,000 to Hastert's campaign through his law firm, but he said he had never met the speaker.

Durkin also noted that he had worked at that firm with Hastert's son, Ethan, though they were not personal friends. He also had worked with both prosecuting attorneys and one of the defense lawyers in the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago.

Durkin told the court that he has no doubt he can be impartial, but understood that some observers might consider it a conflict, so he offered to recuse himself from the case. Both the prosecution and Hastert's defense filed paperwork Thursday with the court asking that Durkin remain on the case.

Legal observers say such relationships between judges, attorneys appearing before them and local politicians are common in Chicago's legal community, and don't necessarily present a conflict of interest.

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