Alcee Hastings

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Alcee Hastings
Alcee Hastings Official portrait 108th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 20th district
23rd (1993–2013)
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Constituency established
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
In office
November 2, 1979 – October 20, 1989
Appointed by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Seat established by 92 Stat. 1629
Succeeded by Federico A. Moreno
Personal details
Born Alcee Lamar Hastings
(1936-09-05) September 5, 1936 (age 81)
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Political party Democratic
Education Fisk University (B.A.)
Howard University School of Law
Florida A&M University College of Law (J.D.)

Alcee Lamar Hastings /ˈæls/ (born September 5, 1936) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 20th congressional district. The district includes most of the majority-black precincts in and around Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. A Democrat, he served as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida until his impeachment and removal.[1]

Early life, education, and early career

Born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Hastings was educated at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.[2] He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology and botany from Fisk in 1958.[2] He attended Howard University School of Law from 1958 to 1960, and received his Juris Doctor from Florida A&M University College of Law in 1963.[2] While in school, he became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He was admitted to the bar in 1963, and began to practice law.[2]

1970 U.S. Senate election

Hastings decided to run for United States Senate in 1970 after incumbent Spessard Holland decided to retire. He failed to win the Democratic primary, or make the run-off election. He ranked fourth out of five candidates, receiving 13% of the vote. Governor Farris Bryant ranked first with 33% of the vote. Lawton Chiles ranked second with 26% of the vote. Chiles defeated Bryant in the run-off election and won the November general election.[3]

Judicial career (1977–1989)

In 1977, Hastings became a judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Florida.

Hastings was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on August 28, 1979, to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to a new seat authorized by 92 Stat. 1629. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 31, 1979, and received his commission on November 2, 1979. His service was terminated on October 20, 1989, due to impeachment and conviction.

Allegations and impeachment

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court, resulting in a jail sentence for Borders.[4]

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled United States House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413–3. He was then convicted on October 20, 1989 by the United States Senate, becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate. The Senate, in two hours of roll calls, voted on 11 of the 17 articles of impeachment. It convicted Hastings of eight of the 11 articles. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed.[1]

The Senate had the option to forbid Hastings from ever seeking federal office again, but did not do so. Alleged co-conspirator attorney William Borders went to jail again for refusing to testify in the impeachment proceedings, but was later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office.[5]

Hastings filed suit in federal court claiming that his impeachment trial was invalid because he was tried by a Senate committee, not in front of the full Senate, and that he had been acquitted in a criminal trial. Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled in favor of Hastings, remanding the case to the Senate, but stayed his ruling pending the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Court in a similar case regarding Judge Walter Nixon, who had also been impeached and removed.[6]

Sporkin found some "crucial distinctions"[7] between Nixon's case and Hastings', specifically, that Nixon had been convicted criminally, and that Hastings was not found guilty by two-thirds of the committee who actually "tried" his impeachment in the Senate. He further added that Hastings had a right to trial by the full Senate.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in Nixon v. United States that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over Senate impeachment matters, so Sporkin's ruling was vacated and Hastings's conviction and removal were upheld.[8]

1990 Secretary of State election

Hastings attempted to make a political comeback by running for Secretary of State of Florida, campaigning on a platform of legalizing casinos. In a three-way Democratic primary, he placed second with 33% of the vote, behind newspaper columnist Jim Minter's 38% of the vote. In the runoff, which saw a large dropoff in turnout, Minter defeated him, 67%–33%. He won just one of Florida's 67 counties: Miami-Dade.[9] Minter went on to lose in the general election to incumbent Republican James C. Smith.

U.S. House of Representatives (1993–present)

Elections

Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, representing Florida's 23rd district. After placing second in the initial Democratic primary for the post, he scored an upset victory over state representative Lois J. Frankel in the runoff and went on to easily win election in the heavily-Democratic district. From that point on he has yet to face a serious challenge for reelection. Subsequent to redistricting and the 2012 election, Alcee Hastings represents Florida's 20th district beginning January 2013.

Tenure

Hastings is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus[10] and was elected president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in July 2004. Today, as a senior Democratic whip, Hastings is an influential member of the Democratic leadership. Hastings is also a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and is a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). On the HPSCI, Hastings is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.[11][12]

Hastings voted to impeach Texas federal judge Samuel B. Kent on all four counts presented against him on June 19, 2009.[13]

Bid for chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee

After the 2006 United States House of Representatives elections, Hastings attracted attention after it was reported that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might appoint him as head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He had support from the Congressional Black Caucus, but was opposed by the Blue Dog Coalition. Hastings attacked his critics as “misinformed fools.” Pelosi reportedly favored Hastings instead of the ranking Democrat Jane Harman due to policy differences and support by the Congressional Black Caucus.[14] On November 28, 2006, Pelosi announced that Hastings would not be the Committee's chairman,[15] and later she chose Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) instead. While Hastings was passed over to chair the committee, he became chair of a sub-committee. He told the National Journal that “I am not angry. At some point along the way, it became too much to explain. That is legitimate politics. But it’s unfortunate for me.”[16]

Comments about Sarah Palin

On September 24, 2008, Hastings came under fire for comments he made regarding Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Hastings, speaking in Washington D.C. to a conference sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council, said "If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through." [17]

On September 29, 2008, Hastings issued an apology via a written statement, while standing by its core message: "I regret the comments I made last Tuesday that were not smart and certainly not relevant to hunters or sportsmen. The point I made, and will continue to make, is that the policies and priorities of a McCain-Palin administration would be anathema to most African Americans and Jews. I regret that I was not clearer and apologize to Governor Palin, my host where I was speaking, and those who my comments may have offended."[18]

Lexus lease

In May 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hastings spent over $24,000 in taxpayer money in 2008 to lease a luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. The Journal noted that the expenditure was legal, properly accounted for, and drawn from an expense allowance the U.S. government grants to all lawmakers.[19]

Comments about Affordable Care Act legislation

In March 2010, Hastings defended Democrats’ approach to passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying "I wish that I had been there when Thomas Edison made the remark that I think applies here: 'There ain't no rules around here, we're trying to accomplish something.' And therefore, when the deal goes down, all this talk about rules, we make them up as we go along."[20]

Sexual harassment allegation

In June 2011, a lawsuit filed by one of his staff members, Winsome Packer, alleged that Hastings made repeated unwanted sexual advances and threatened her job when she refused him.[21] A congressional ethics panel investigated these claims.[21] Packer was being represented by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. Hastings denied the claims and called them "ludicrous."[22] He stated that "I will win this lawsuit. That is a certainty. In a race with a lie, the truth always wins. And when the truth comes to light and the personal agendas of my accusers are exposed, I will be vindicated.”[23] In February 2012, it was reported that Hastings would be released from the lawsuit, and it would only continue against the Helsinki Commission.[24] In December 2017, it was reported that the Treasury Department paid $220,000 to settle the lawsuit.[25]

Least wealthy congressman

In a 2011 survey of U.S. lawmakers, the Center for Responsive Politics named Hastings the "Poorest Member of Congress," with a 2010 average net worth of −$4,732,002.[26] His congressional financial disclosure form indicated that, as of 2010, Hastings did not have any earned income, he had a bank account with a balance in the $1,000 to $15,000 range, and he owed several million dollars in legal fees to several attorneys stemming from the 1981–1989 charges.[27]

Nepotism claims

In 2012, Hastings was ranked 1 out of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives for paying salaries and fees to family members, according to the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch.[28] A state by state report on all members of Congress, published by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, reported Hastings paid his girlfriend, Patricia Williams, an attorney who worked as his deputy district director, $622,574 over the four-year period, from 2007–2010.[29]

2016 congressional election

Hastings won the general election on November 8, 2016, defeating Republican Gary Stein, by a margin of 80.3% to 19.7%.[30]

Committee assignments

Leadership positions

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Gun policy

Hastings has stated that gun control is a "critical element" of addressing the United States' crime problem.[34] Hastings is favor of reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He also supports a federal ban on bump stocks. He supports raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. In 2017, he voted against the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. His current rating from the NRA is an "F", indicating that it believes he does not support gun rights legislation.[35]

Following the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Hastings released a statement in which he said, "The stranglehold of the gun lobby has gone on long enough."[36] Hastings wrote a letter to the Speaker of the Florida House and President of the Florida Senate urging them to repeal the state's Preemption law, which prohibits communities in Florida from passing their own gun regulations.[37]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Senate Removes Hastings, The Washington Post, October 21, 1989. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Congressional Directory 2005–2006: One Hundred Ninth Congress, p. 68.
  3. ^ "Our Campaigns - FL US Senate - D Primary Race - Sep 08, 1970". www.ourcampaigns.com. 
  4. ^ "Federal Judge Acquitted" Milwaukee Journal, Feb. 4, 1983
  5. ^ "The Power of the Pardon". Law.com. 2011-07-15. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  6. ^ "Senate Conviction of Hastings Is Reversed by Judge Sporkin". The Washington Post. 1992-09-18. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  7. ^ Hastings v. U.S., 802 F.Supp. 490
  8. ^ HASTINGS v. U.S. 837 F.Supp. 3 (1993)
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns - FL Secretary of State - D Runoff Race - Oct 02, 1990". www.ourcampaigns.com. 
  10. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  11. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll007.xml
  12. ^ "109 1st U.S. House of Representatives MOTION On Agreeing to the Objection". 2005-01-12. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  13. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Votes". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  14. ^ Battle of Hastings adds to Pelosi drama MSNBC, Nov. 16, 2006
  15. ^ Pelosi Shuts Hastings Out of Intel Chairmanship NPR, Nov. 28, 2006
  16. ^ http://www.nationaljournal.com/almanac/2010/person/alcee-hastings-fl/
  17. ^ Anderson, Rigel (2008-09-24). "Florida Congressman: Palin 'Don't Care Too Much What They Do With Jews and Blacks' – Political Radar". Blogs.abcnews.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  18. ^ "Black Florida congressman apologizes for Palin comments". CNN. 2008-09-29. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  19. ^ Radnofsky, Louise; Farnam, T.W. (May 30, 2009). "Lawmakers Bill Taxpayers For TVs, Cameras, Lexus". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  20. ^ "Rep. Alcee Hastings invokes Thomas Edison: 'No rules around here — we're trying to accomplish something'". Post on Politics. 2010-03-20. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  21. ^ a b Fields, Gary; Mullins, Brody (2011-06-22). "Florida Congressman Faces New Ethics Review". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  22. ^ McCormack, Simon (2011-06-22). "Alcee Hastings Sexual Harassment Allegation Investigated By Ethics Panel". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  23. ^ "Winsome Packer Claims Alcee Hastings Harassment in Lawsuit". news.lalate.com. 
  24. ^ "Alcee Hastings Released From Personal Liability In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit". The Huffington Post. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  25. ^ Akin, Stephanie (2017-12-09). "Exclusive: Taxpayers Paid $220K to Settle Case Involving Rep. Alcee Hastings". Roll Call. Retrieved 2017-12-09. 
  26. ^ "Richest and 'poorest' Members of Congress". Washingtonpost.com. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  27. ^ "Calendar Year 2010 Financial Disclosure Statement, The Hon. Alcee Lamar Hastings" (PDF). 
  28. ^ "Alcee Hastings Ranks No.1 In Nepotism - Judicial Watch". 27 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-14. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  30. ^ "Florida's 20th Congressional District election, 2016 - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  31. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018. 
  32. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  33. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 8 June 2018. 
  34. ^ "Gun Control". U. S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. U. S. Federal Government. Retrieved 6 March 2018. 
  35. ^ Daugherty, Alex (20 February 2018). "Where South Floridians in Congress stand on gun legislatio". Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. Retrieved 6 March 2018. 
  36. ^ "Statement on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting". U. S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. U. S. Federal Government. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018. 
  37. ^ "Hastings Urges Florida State Legislature to Repeal Firearm Preemption Law". U. S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. U. S. Federal Government. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018. 

Sources

Books

  • U.S. House of Representatives (2005). Congressional Directory 2005–2006: One Hundred Ninth Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-0-16-072467-1. 

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 92 Stat. 1629
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
1979–1989
Succeeded by
Federico A. Moreno
U.S. House of Representatives
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 23rd congressional district

1993–2013
Succeeded by
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Preceded by
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 20th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Bruce George
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
2004–2006
Succeeded by
Göran Lennmarker
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Luis Gutiérrez
D-Illinois
United States Representatives by seniority
37th
Succeeded by
Eddie Bernice Johnson
D-Texas
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