A Democratic congressman who was once impeached as a judge is under investigation for having a relationship with a congressional staffer.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) has admitted to being in a relationship with Patricia Williams, a disbarred lawyer who works in his office.
The House Ethics Committee said on Nov. 14 that it was gathering information about the relationship.
“The Committee is specifically considering whether Representative Hastings’ relationship with the individual employed in his congressional office is in violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 18(a), and whether Representative Hastings has received any improper gifts, including any forbearance, from that employee. The Committee continues to gather additional information regarding the allegations,” Chairman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ranking Member Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) said in a joint statement.
According to the cited House rule: “A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves. This paragraph does not apply with respect to any relationship between two people who are married to each other.”
The rule was passed in Feb. 2018.
According to property records obtained by the Palm Beach Post, Hastings, 83, and Williams bought a $700,000 house together in 2017. She’s been working on Hastings’s congressional staff since at least 2000, receiving nearly $3 million in taxpayer funds for her salary.
Hastings told the paper: “However it looks, it’s been looking like that for 25 years.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) told the outlet that Hastings’s relationship with Williams violates the resolution.
“His flouting of the rules is legendary,” she said. “This is open and shut. He is in violation.”
Williams represented Hastings in the 1980s when he was impeached and removed as a U.S. District Court judge.
In 2011, Hastings was sued for sexual harassment by a woman, Winsome Packer, who was hired as a policy adviser for the congressman when he chaired the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe in May 2007.
Hastings denied accusations that he touched her inappropriately and made sexually suggestive comments. The case was dismissed, and Packer was awarded a $220,000 secret settlement by the congressional Office of Compliance. Documents later emerged showing the large payout.
In the House Ethics statement, the top two members added about the new allegations: “The Committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee. No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with Committee rules.”