It’s an epidemic.
Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings (Florida) is the next up at bat, in the great purging of sexual harassers.
Hastings was accused of sexually harassing a female staffer and a healthy sum of $220,000 was paid out, in settlement.
The former staffer, Winsome Packer, worked for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, and accused Hastings of “unwelcome touching” and “unwelcome sexual advances” in a lawsuit filed against him, according to Roll Call.
Packer also alleged Hastings threatened to fire her for objecting to his behavior.
Packer was stationed in Vienna and ended up traveling quite a bit with Hastings, who served as the commission chairman, at the time.
According to Packer, Hastings would ask to stay at her apartment, or to come back to her hotel room. He would hug her often, she claimed, and at least on one occasion, he asked what kind of underwear she had on.
Yeah. Ok, guy.
Packer, a former Republican staffer on Capitol Hill, filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2010. Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, filed a lawsuit against Hastings and the Helsinki Commission on behalf of Packer in 2011.
In 2012, Hastings was dropped from the lawsuit after arguing the federal statute Packer sued under didn’t apply to lawmakers.
The settlement was approved by the Office of Compliance and paid by the Treasury Department in May 2014.
Hastings, of course, has denied the allegations, called them “ludicrous,” and claims to have no knowledge of the settlement.
But what’s he going to say?
“Yeah. I did it. So?”
What he did say, while pointing out that Packer’s lawsuit against him was dismissed, was this:
“Until this evening, I had not seen the settlement agreement between the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Ms. Packer,” Hastings said in a statement to Roll Call. “This matter was handled solely by the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made.”
Hastings also said he is “outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer.”
Yeah, so are we, so how were we even put in this position?
The House Ethics Committee completed the investigation into the allegations against Hastings in Dec. 2014, but said the most serious of the charges were “not supported by evidence.” The Florida Democrat did, though, “admit to certain conduct that was less than professional.”
The euphemisms aren’t helping us.
She may not have been able to prove the most serious of the charges, but she proved enough to get a $220,000 settlement, and that means there was a problem that couldn’t be explained away.
And the worst part is, there are still more to come.
There always are.