MARCH 27, 2012
A Florida congressman impeached as a federal judge and currently under House Ethics Committee scrutiny has earned yet another recognition for his transgressions, this time nepotism.
Alcee Hastings, one of only six federal judges to be removed from the bench, is in a class of his own when it comes to nepotism. This month he was ranked No. 1 out of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives for paying salaries and fees to family members. The sordid details are included in a government watchdog’s study of how members of Congress abuse their position to benefit themselves and their families.
The results were neatly packaged in a 300-plus-page report, titled “Family Affair.” Virtually every member of the House is mentioned and Hastings, who made Judicial Watch’s 2011 Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list, leads the pack for paying his girlfriend/deputy district director more than half a million dollars in salary and other expenses from 2007 to 2010.
Hasting’s girlfriend, Patricia Williams, draws a generous six-figure salary from his congressional office and gets reimbursed for “travel and event expenses,” according to the report. The ten-term congressman, who serves on several powerful committees, also owes his gal pal, who is a lawyer, up to $1 million for defending him during his impeachment trial.
Under House rules, members aren’t supposed to hire family but Hastings says that doesn’t apply to him because he’s not legally married to Williams and he’s not related to her. Therefore, the report is “inaccurate,” Hastings told a local newspaper in his south Florida district. “I have never had any family members employed in my Congressional office,” he said, stressing an official dictionary definition of “family” to include spouses and blood relatives but not girlfriends.
The veteran Democrat lawmaker, who got impeached as a judge after being embroiled in a bribery scandal, has quite a history mixing work with romance. In fact, last spring Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Hastings on behalf of a female employee (Winsome Packer) who was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation when he chaired the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, led to a House Ethics Committee probe as well.
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