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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ethics trouble grows for Rep. Alcee Hastings



The Office of Congressional Ethics today said it has voted to recommend the House ethics committee look into sexual harassment charges levies against Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings.

An employee of the Helsinki Commission, which Hastings served on, had accused him of improper actions. Hastings, D-Miramar, denied wrongdoing.

The Office of Congressional Ethics voted 5-1 to forward the case "because there is probable cause to believe that Representative Hastings violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law as a result of his interactions with Witness 1."

"As I have said repeatedly since this matter first came to my attention, I unequivocally deny the allegations made by Ms. Packer," Hastings said in a statement. "The acts alleged are contrary to my character and to the main objective of my career in Congress, advancing the civil rights of all people."

Rest of statement below.

“Furthermore, Ms. Packer’s allegations are completely false.  I never had a romantic or sexual interest in her, nor did I ever express or otherwise suggest that I had any such interest.

“After having months to investigate these very serious – and false – claims, the Office of Congressional Ethics did not find any evidence to substantiate Ms. Packer’s allegations.  The OCE’s report parrots Ms. Packer’s allegations, but it does not credit her statements as truthful or point to any evidence that corroborates her claims.  Instead, the OCE referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics on the chance that the Committee might be able to uncover some evidence to which the OCE was not privy.

“The OCE’s report ignores the contradictions in the various versions of Ms. Packer’s stories.  It also disregards the testimony of disinterested third parties that directly contradicts Ms. Packer’s allegations.

“The OCE also completely failed to assess Ms. Packer’s motivations.  Ms. Packer has a self-published book entitled, A Personal Agenda, which she has stated ‘seeks to provoke its readers by examining … sexual harassment in Congress’ and supposedly was ‘inspired by her own experiences.’ 

“Ms. Packer began publicizing her book in June 2010, shortly before she lodged her complaint against me.  And in her personal offerings she has indicated that she plans to write a sequel.  The OCE did not explore the connection between the complainant’s allegations and her side career as a novelist.

“It is also no coincidence that Ms. Packer is represented by Judicial Watch, a conservative organization that has targeted Democrats in general and me in particular.  Judicial Watch’s representation of Ms. Packer is a marriage of convenience.  Ms. Packer’s lawsuit, like her book, is a fictitious effort to promote her ‘personal agenda’ – including increasing sales of her novel.  This effort will fail as no amount of political maneuvering can obscure the truth; Ms. Packer’s allegations are false and without merit.

“I look forward to the Committee on Ethics’ review of these bogus charges, and am confident that it will conclude, as have the General Council of the U.S. House of Representatives, Counsel of the House Employment Counsel, and the United States Justice Department, that the claims are false.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:55am]


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