There’s a catch-22 brewing for Democratic Representative Alcee L. Hastings from Florida. If he knowingly had $220,000 of taxpayer money paid to a former staffer he allegedly sexually harassed, he should resign. If he didn’t even know about it, as he claims, then he should resign for being incompetent. How can we have representatives who can’t keep track of money paid on their own behalf, let alone for us?
The latest story of sexual misconduct coming from Washington DC is that Hastings was accused by a former staff member of several actions. She claimed Hastings “touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job.”
The Treasury Department paid $220,000 in a previously undisclosed agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment that involved Florida Democrat Alcee L. Hastings, according to documents obtained by Roll Call.
Winsome Packer, a former staff member of a congressional commission that promotes international human rights, said in documents that the congressman touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job. At the time, Hastings was the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Packer worked.
This falls under the same category as allegations against former Representative John Conyers and current embattled Representative Blake Farenthold. All three utilized a previously unknown fund in Congress that’s designated for paying off accusers, particularly those accused of sexual misconduct. This hush fund has come to light in recent weeks and is the tool by which many in Congress will likely be purged.
Hastings claims he wasn’t even aware of the payoff in his name:
Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, said he was never informed of a $220,000 sexual harassment settlement paid using taxpayer money to a former staffer, who sued him for “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome touching,” Politico reports.
Why it matters: Lawmakers are under intense scrutiny after three members stepped down last week over sexual harassment allegations. He says the original lawsuit filed against him was dismissed in 2012, and he was cleared by the House Ethics Committee two years later.
This should be handled immediately by Congress. He should be forced to step down. Claims of ignorance cannot become the defense that keeps these men in power. They know what they did. If they had to pay to keep people quiet, they shouldn’t be on Capitol Hill.