A Florida congressman with a long history of deceit and corruption is in hot water again for giving his girlfriend the maximum taxpayer salary for five consecutive years to work in a field office. Judicial Watch has a lengthy history of exposing the veteran lawmaker’s transgressions and years ago sued him on behalf of a female employee that he repeatedly harassed. His name is Alcee Hastings and he’s one of only six federal judges to be impeached by Congress and removed from the bench. As a federal judge, Hastings got busted in a scandal involving the solicitation of a $150,000 bribe in return for “favorable treatment for defendants in a racketeering case before him.” The disgraced judge was an unindicted co-conspirator, but there was enough evidence against him for Congress to boot him from the bench.
As a federal legislator, Hastings has continued his corrupt ways, committing a multitude of misdeeds that include mixing work with romance. Judicial Watch represented a female employee named Winsome Packer who was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation by Hastings when he chaired the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. For over two years, from January 2008 through February 19, 2010, Packer was forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching by Hastings while serving as the Representative of the Commission to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although Packer repeatedly rejected Hastings’ sexual attention and complained about the harassment to the Commission Staff Director, Fred Turner, Hastings refused to stop sexually harassing her. Instead, the congressman and Turner retaliated against Packer—including making threats of termination—because she continued to object to Hastings’ conduct. The 2011 suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, led to a House Ethics Committee probe.
Nepotism has also been pervasive in Hastings’ congressional office as Judicial Watch has been reporting for years. Back in 2012 a government watchdog released the findings of a probe that revealed Hastings had paid his girlfriend/deputy district director more than half a million dollars in salary and other expenses. The girlfriend, Patricia Williams, is an attorney that defended Hastings during his shameful impeachment trial. For the last five years, Hastings has paid Williams $168,411 a year, the highest congressional salary permitted, to work in his south Florida field office. That’s more than the congressman’s chief of staff in Washington, D.C., which is typically the highest paid position in a congressional office. 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.
This month a government watchdog filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting an investigation into the girlfriend’s lucrative government salary, the highest in his staff. Since 2000, Hastings has paid his gal pal $2.4 million from taxpayer coffers, the complaint points out. “A member’s personal ties to an employee obviously raises concerns of favoritism or unjust payment from United States Treasury funds,” the complaint states. “In this case, even though the personal relationship is not prohibited, there is a close personal relationship between Hastings and Williams.” The lawmaker’s girlfriend earning the maximum salary allowed by law though she isn’t a congressional chief of staff that generally has the most responsibilities indicates serious ethical concerns, the complaint says.
Attached to the document as an exhibit is a news article published earlier this month by a conservative Washington D.C. newspaper (the mainstream media has been noticeably quiet regarding this scandal.) Titled “Rep. Alcee Hastings Maxes Out Girlfriend’s Salary for Fifth Straight Year,” the story also reveals that the congressman employs his girlfriend’s daughter and a woman convicted of money laundering. The woman, Dona Nichols-Jones, is the wife of a former Hastings staffer named Mikel Jones, the article says. In 2011 the husband-and-wife team got convicted of money laundering, conspiracy and fraud for using $600,000 from a business loan for personal use. They created shell companies and fake invoices then used the cash to pay off credit cards, buy groceries and tickets to sporting events.