Florida Democrat Faces Sexual Harassment Inquiry

Office of Congressional Ethics investigates Alcee Hastings
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2011 2:19 PM CDT
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., presides over a delegation meeting on Capitol Hill, May 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating allegations that Democrat Alcee Hastings sexually harassed a staffer on a panel he chaired, the Wall Street Journal reports. The investigation began at least a month ago, when the conservative group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on behalf of Republican staffer Winsome Packer, who says Hastings made “unwelcome sexual advances” on her, including “unwelcome touching.” She also says Hastings retaliated when she tried to report it.

Asked for comment on the investigation, Hastings replied, “It would be impossible for me in a paragraph or a page or two or a tome or volumes one and two to help you understand the dynamics of these events.” But a spokesman clarified that he “in the strongest terms, denies the charges.” When the lawsuit was first filed, Hastings called the allegations “ludicrous” and promised he’d win, saying, “In a race with a lie, the truth always wins.” This is not Hastings' first rumble with Congress: While serving as a federal judge he was impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate on bribery charges and removed from the federal bench in 1989—and went on to win an election to the House three years later.

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