By Jim Kouri
A congressman who was impeached and removed from the federal bench in Florida, and who is now under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, has been exposed by a Beltway watchdog group for yet another transgression — nepotism.
Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is one of only six federal judges to be removed from the bench following an impeachment trial in which even members the group — the Congressional Black Caucus — condemned his corruption as a jurist when he claimed he was being targeted because he was an African American judge.
In addition, Hastings is under investigation for sexually harassing and molesting a female subordinate.
According to a report on the Judicial Watch blog, Hastings “is in a class of his own when it comes to nepotism.” Hastings is also on the 2011 Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list.
This month Congressman Hastings achieved the rank of 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 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, according to the Judicial Watch blogger.
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. And so the reports are inaccurate Hastings told a local newspaper in his south Florida district.
“I have never had any family members employed in my Congressional office,” Hastings stated, 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 named Winsome Packer, who was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation when Hastings 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, according to Judicial Watch.
Special thanks to Jill Farrell, director of public affairs for Judicial Watch, for her continued help and assistance in providing valuable information on government and political corruption.