Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sexual Harassment Charges Against Alcee Hastings

Alcee Hastings has long been a magnet for controversy. As a federal judge, Hastings was convicted by the U.S. Senate in relations to a bribery scandal. Amazingly, the Senate did not forbid Hastings from running for public office. This shows how much members of the Senate respect the integrity of public office.

Roll Call reports that Hastings with House committee staffers. Never a good idea. Hastings told the Office of Congressional Ethics this nugget.

Hastings also allowed that he had wondered aloud during bar-time chitchat how members - especially females - can wear the same underwear for an entire day on the Hill but added he did specifically comment to Packer.

Who the hell say things like that out loud around co-workers?

I usually stay away from sex-related scandals. The reason I am blogging about this is because Winsome Packer has filed a discrimination against Hastings, and Helsinki Commission staff director Fred Turner. The OCE released a report stating the Winsome claims that Hastings and Turner engaged in "unwelcome sexual advances, sexual comments, and unwelcome touching." Judgement should be reserved to all the facts are gathered. However, the allegations should be treated seriously.

The OCE found that some of Winsome's claims have been corroborated by evidence. The OCE has found enough evidence to continue investigating. This is quite different than the write up given by Roll Call.

Turner is listed in the repiort as a non-cooperating witness. Turner has refused to hand over his laptop. Marlene Kaufman turned in her laptop with the hard drive erased. Hastings is listed as a cooperating witness.

According to the report, Hastings took Packer to a business dinner to discuss the commision position on Nienna. Hastings told Packer that when she moved to Vienna he could come visit her at her apartment. Hastings later called Packer at her Virginia home and asked if he could come over. Hastings continued to press Packer about staying with her in Vienna.

Packer told Turner that she was not in a relationship with Hastings. Apparently, this took Turner by surprise. Turner told Packer that he would talk to Hastings.

Packer told an FBI agent that Hastings would use group settings as an opportunity to hug her. Packer also told the FBI agent that Hastings called her from a hotel lobby and told her he was waiting for her.

Hastings asked Packer about her underwear. Hasting told the OCE he often makes comments wondering how staffers can stay in the same underwear for 16 hours. In what work setting is this comment proper?

Packer again complained to Turner about the behavior of Hastings. It appears Turner did not have that talk with the Congressman.

The OCE report has emails and notes written by Packer. This could sink Hastings career

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