Cong. Alcee Hastings Sued
March 11, 2011
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Rep. Alcee Hastings Sued by Employee for Sexual Harassment
The impeached former federal judge and current Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings is on the hot seat again—this time for his alleged sexual harassment of a female government employee, Winsome Packer.
On Monday, we held a press conference at JW headquarters to announce the filing of a lawsuit against Hastings on behalf of Ms. Packer, who was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances,” “unwelcome touching” and retaliation.
The alleged harassment and retaliation began in 2008 when Hastings served as Chairman of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and Ms. Packer as his employee. The Commission is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with the Commission’s former staff director, Fred Turner.
Needless to say, given the serious nature of these allegations, JW’s announcement earned a barrage of press coverage. (Here are some links to stories in The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN, to give you an idea of national interest in this story.)
And what did Hastings do to warrant all of this negative attention? The following is a quick squib from our complaint detailing the allegations, but I highly recommend you read it in its entirety to get a full sense of Hastings’ disgusting and abusive behavior.
For over two years, from January 2008 through February 19, 2010, Ms. Packer was forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching by Mr. Hastings while serving as the Representative of the Commission to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although Ms. Packer repeatedly rejected Mr. Hastings’ sexual attention and repeatedly complained about the harassment to the Commission Staff Director, Fred Turner, Mr. Hastings refused to stop sexually harassing her. Rather, Mr. Hastings and Mr. Turner began to retaliate against Ms. Packer—including making threats of termination—because she continued to object to Mr. Hastings’ conduct. Ms. Packer was particularly vulnerable to such threats because she was a Republican working for the Democratically-controlled Commission, a point that both Mr. Hastings and Mr. Turner used to threaten and intimidate her. Eventually, the emotional distress, anxiety, and humiliation caused by the sexual harassment and retaliation caused Ms. Packer to suffer severe health problems and forced her to leave her prestigious position.
According to our complaint, “Mr. Hastings’ intention was crystal clear: he was sexually attracted to Ms. Packer, wanted a sexual relationship with her, and would help progress her career if she acquiesced to his sexual advances.”
These advances included: Making multiple demands that Ms. Packer allow Rep. Hastings to stay in her apartment while she served as the Commission’s lead staff representative overseas; subjecting Ms. Packer to unwanted physical contact, including hugging her with both arms while pressing his body against her body and his face against her face; inviting her on multiple occasions to accompany him alone to his hotel room; making sexual comments and references to Ms. Packer, and asking Ms. Packer humiliating and inappropriate questions in public, such as “What kind of underwear are you wearing?”
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After Ms. Packer repeatedly rebuffed these advances and reported them to her superior, Mr. Turner, and other officials, including Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Hastings allegedly scolded her for not being a “sport” and for rejecting him after he had “come to [her] as a man does a woman.” He said he was very upset she had reported his behavior to Mr. Turner: “How dare you complain about me! You had better forget about being Republican.”
Moreover, Hastings and Turner then allegedly took retaliatory actions against Ms. Packer by repeatedly threatening her job at the Commission, by refusing to allow her to return from overseas to her position as Policy Advisor in Washington, D.C., and by intentionally marginalizing her from her colleagues. Hastings also pressured Ms. Packer to buy him personal gifts and make a campaign contribution to him.
As a direct result of Mr. Hastings’ sexual harassment, Ms. Packer experienced some significant health problems, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and high-blood pressure. She also developed symptoms of coronary artery disease. At one point, these symptoms were so severe Ms. Packer collapsed and was rushed to the emergency room. Ms. Packer has been prescribed medication and is under the care of a physician because of the severity of her heart problems.
For his part, as reported by the New York Daily News, Alcee Hastings says he is “insulted” by our allegations: “When all the facts are known in this case, the prevailing sentiment will be, ‘How bizarre!’”
Hastings’ behavior was certainly bizarre. But that’s not the first word that comes to mind: outrageous, reprehensible and offensive are more like it. Is Congress so far gone that its members think they can get away with the most base sexual harassment of staff!?
For two years Hastings subjected Ms. Packer to a never-ending barrage of unwanted sexual advances. And when Ms. Packer tried, time and again, to put a stop to it, he resorted to threats and intimidation in order to force her compliance. Even after Hastings’ behavior caused Ms. Packer’s physical collapse, he would not relent. Needless to say, we are looking forward to holding Alcee Hastings and the other defendants accountable for their unlawful behavior in court. You can be sure that Ms. Packer is grateful for the legal support of Judicial Watch (which is made possible, of course, with your support!). Here’s what Ms. Packer said at the press conference:
“I’m thankful for Judicial Watch’s support and legal representation. Cong. Hastings’ behavior has caused me great damage and anguish. But I’m also upset by the failure of the Commission and his colleagues in the House and in the Senate to hold to him to account and protect me. What happened to me was no secret. I followed all the rules and complained repeatedly and in writing about Cong. Hastings’ conduct. Yet, I was let down by the Commission and Congress. The laws against sexual discrimination and harassment apply to members of Congress like they do to everyone else. But Cong. Hastings thought the laws didn’t apply to him. This lawsuit will remind him otherwise. Thank you.”
By the way, as I alluded to earlier, this is not the first time Hastings has gotten himself into serious trouble. As a federal judge, Hastings was impeached by the House and, after a trial, removed from the bench by the U.S. Senate in 1989 for accepting bribe money and perjury. He was only the sixth federal judge in the history of the U.S. to be removed from the bench by the U.S. Senate.
JW Forces Release of DHS Report on Illegal Alien Charged With Killing Virginia Nun in August 2010 Drunk Driving Incident
A few weeks ago I told you the Obama administration was playing games with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by refusing to turn over a report detailing the agency’s investigation of an illegal alien, Carlos Martinelly-Montano, who is charged with killing a Virginia nun in a drunk driving accident in August 2010.
As you will recall, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promised a federal court it would release the report earlier this year, but then later claimed that the document was in “draft” form, and therefore would not be released. (Click here to read some of the emails back and forth we had with DHS.)
Well, Judicial Watch received the edited “final” report on March 3, 2011. The final report, which we were told by DHS was still being “worked on” last month, is dated November 24, 2010. This lying game shows the Obama DHS is thoroughly mendacious. The DHS report details policies and actions of the Obama administration and local governments that allowed Montano, an illegal alien who committed a series of crimes, to remain on the streets despite being subject to deportation.
Here is a detailed chronology of events as described in the report, which we received through a FOIA lawsuit we filed on December 2, 2010. As you’ll see, even though the Obama administration scrubbed the report, there is more than enough evidence of the amnesty and sanctuary policy agenda of the federal government, local authorities and the courts:
On December 7, 2007, Montano was convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Prince William County, Virginia and was sentenced to serve 30 days of incarceration. The judge in Prince William County, however, suspended all 30 days of the jail sentence with the result that Montano was not jailed for his offense. Local authorities did not seek to determine Montano’s immigration status nor did they contact ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement].…
Almost one year later, on October 4, 2008, Montano was booked into jail in Prince William County and charged with another misdemeanor DUI. At the time of this arrest, the local authorities determined that Montano was an illegal alien. Thus, ICE lodged an immigration detainer against him. As a result of the immigration detainer, immigration officers took him into custody. On October 7, 2008, Prince William County officials released him from custody.…
[Rather than detaining Montano,] ICE agents determined that Montano was a candidate for the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program and … monitored his whereabouts using GPS technology.…
On April 27, 2009, as a result of the October 2008 DUI arrest, the Circuit Court of Prince William County convicted Montano and sentenced him to serve 12 months and 3 days in jail. However, the judge in Prince William County suspended 11 months and 13 days of Montano’s sentence. As a result of the judge’s decision, Montano served less than two weeks in Prince William County for his second DUI conviction.…
On May 7, 2009, after Montano served the portion of his sentence that had not been suspended, ICE took him into custody. Based on Montano’s compliance during his prior participation in the ATD program, ICE officers released Montano on the prior order of supervision (dating back to 2008) with the condition that he report to ICE on a regular basis.…
[While awaiting his deportation hearing,] Montano was charged on March 5, 2009, in Fairfax County, Virginia, with misdemeanor failure to appear related to driving without a license. Local officials dismissed this charge against Montano on May 5, 2009. County officials did not contact ICE. On April 27, 2010, a Manassas Park police officer cited Montano for misdemeanor reckless driving. There is no record indicating that Montano was booked or fingerprinted or that Manassas Park officials contacted ICE. On June 1, 2010, Montano was convicted for reckless driving and fined $500. Again, ICE was not contacted following the citation or conviction.
The documents clearly show that decisions made by the Executive Office for Immigration Review caused delays in the removal proceedings. Moreover, Montano’s immigration attorney successfully lobbied an immigration judge to delay Montano’s removal hearing on two occasions. The court ultimately scheduled Montano’s hearing for August 19, 2010, but it was too little too late. On August 1, 2010, while under the influence of alcohol, Montano was charged with crashing his car into another vehicle, killing one nun and critically injuring two others.
So, what excuses did the Obama administration come up with to explain this catastrophe?
The report concludes: “In 2008, when the decision was made to release Montano, fewer beds were available in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.” The report also points to government policies that allowed immigration officials “broad discretion” about how to use detention resources. The Obama administration used this discretion to release Montano in 2009, after he had served jail time for his 2008 drunken driving arrest.
Here’s what I told the Associated Press about this excuse-making:
“Most Americans expect illegal aliens to be caught and deported. To use the excuse that ‘We don’t have enough beds’ is so pathetic,” said Fitton, who accused the Obama administration [of having] a “neverending supply of reasons” it won’t detain illegal immigrants.
The “report” does not mention the series of other terrible Obama administration illegal immigration policies that continue to put illegal alien criminals on the streets.
In July 2010, the Obama administration announced it would not take legal action against “sanctuary cities” that prevent local law enforcement entities from freely communicating with federal immigration officials. In contrast, the Obama Justice Department filed a lawsuit to stop the State of Arizona from enforcing SB 1070, a get-tough illegal immigration law that mandates local law enforcement officers cooperate with federal immigration officials. The Obama administration ordered federal immigration agents to focus deportation efforts only on illegal aliens suspected of terrorist activity and those convicted of “violent” crimes.
None of these policies are going to do anything to deter illegal alien criminals from harming American citizens. In fact, they will almost assuredly make matters much worse.
Regarding the report, if this is the cleaned-up version, I can’t imagine what bombshells were included in the original version. Even in its edited form, this report is an embarrassment to the Obama administration and a clear indictment of Obama’s lawless approach to illegal immigration. An innocent nun lost her life because local police officers are not allowed—and Obama immigration officials couldn’t be bothered—to enforce and obey the law. This tragedy is a direct result of the Obama administration’s decision to undermine the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Speaking of which…
Are Terrorists Flooding Across the Border?
That’s the question we’re left to ask ourselves after reviewing new documents we obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These records detail FY 2010 apprehension statistics for illegal alien smugglers and illegal aliens from countries considered a high threat to the United States because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
Here are the highlights from the documents, which we obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request filed on January 26, 2011:
- U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 463,382 individuals smuggled across the border, including 8,905 smugglers. (3,027 of the smugglers apprehended were deemed “deportable.”)
- U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 59,017 “Other Than Mexican” illegal aliens through October 7, 2010.
- Among the nations represented in apprehension statistics are the four countries currently on the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” Cuba (712), Iran (14), Syria (5) and Sudan (5), as well as Somalia (9), Afghanistan (9), Pakistan (37), Saudi Arabia (5) and Yemen (11).
- Overall, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries.” These countries are deemed “special interest” because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
- The countries yielding the highest “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions include: Guatemala (18,406), El Salvador (13,723), and Honduras (13,580).
U.S. Border Patrol estimates that three out of every four illegal aliens who cross the border evade apprehension. So while these apprehension statistics are alarming, it’s the ones that got away that should cause us the most concern. And I don’t think there’s any doubt that a significant number of these illegal aliens intend to do us harm. (You should also know that many of those “apprehended” simply cross the border illegally again within moments of being deposited in Mexico by Border Patrol.)
You may recall press reports last year that documented a Department of Homeland Security alert issued in May asking authorities in Texas to be on the lookout for a member of the Somali-based terrorist group Al Shabaab, who was suspected of hatching a plot to cross into the U.S. through Mexico.
The warning was issued following an unsealed indictment earlier in the month in a Texas federal court accusing a Texas Somali man of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” that brought hundreds of Somalis across the Mexican border. Many of these illegal aliens were suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations.
However, until now, the Obama administration offered little information regarding the overall scope of this growing national security problem. In fact, check out this border investigation by a local television station in Atlanta. A retired 30-year veteran of the federal immigration system told Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Channel 2, that the government is deliberately “keeping us in the dark” about the number of terrorists crossing the border.
No one should be surprised if terrorists take advantage of our porous borders in light of the Obama administration’s lax approach to border security. When you have an administration that pushes illegal alien amnesty, permits illegal alien sanctuary policies, and attacks states like Arizona for seeking to enforce the rule of law, it sends a signal to our enemies to cross the border illegally and to do their worst. The Obama administration continues to allow our borders to spiral out of control. These numbers are simply astonishing. Our country cannot secure our borders soon enough!
As you know if you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, Judicial Watch has been all over the border security crisis. In addition to forcing the release of documents detailing violent Mexican government incursions across the border, we’ve also focused heavily on the issue of smuggling. Click here to check out our map of drop-houses in Arizona that smugglers use to keep victims of smuggling captive while subjecting them to beatings and extortion.
Until next week…
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