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Alcee Hastings

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Alcee Hastings

Alcee Hastings
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 20th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 23rd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Debbie Wasserman Schultz
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
Succeeded by Federico Moreno
Personal details
Born Alcee Lamar Hastings
(1936-09-05) September 5, 1936
Altamonte Springs, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Howard University
Fisk University (B.A.)
Florida A&M University (J.D.)
Religion African Methodist Episcopal

Alcee Lamar Hastings (born September 5, 1936) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 20th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He served as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida from 1979, until his impeachment from that post in 1989.[1]


  • Early life, education, and early career 1
  • Judicial career (1977-1989) 2
  • 1990 Secretary of State election 3
  • U.S. House of Representatives (1993-present) 4
    • Elections 4.1
    • Tenure 4.2
      • Bid for chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee 4.2.1
      • Comments about Sarah Palin 4.2.2
      • Lexus lease 4.2.3
      • Comments about Affordable Care Act legislation 4.2.4
      • Sexual harassment allegation 4.2.5
      • Least wealthy congressman 4.2.6
      • Nepotism claims 4.2.7
    • Committee assignments 4.3
    • Leadership positions 4.4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

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. He earned his bachelor's degree in zoology and botany from Fisk in 1958. He received his law degree from Florida A&M University in 1963. While in school, he became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He began to practice law in 1964.

1970 U.S. Senate election

Hastings decided to run for U.S. 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.[2]

Judicial career (1977-1989)

In 1977, he became a judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Florida. In 1979, he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida.

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.[3]

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. 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 in 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.[4]

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 back 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)


Hastings was elected to the U.S. 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.


Hastings is a member of the 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.[10]

Hastings voted to impeach Texas federal judge Samuel B. Kent on all four counts presented against him on June 19, 2009.[11]

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.[12] On November 28, 2006, Pelosi announced that Hastings would not be the Committee's chairman,[13] 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.”[14]

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." [15]

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."[16]

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.[17]

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."[18]

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.[19] A congressional ethics panel investigated these claims.[19] Packer was being represented by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. Hastings denied the claims and called them "ludicrous."[20] 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.”[21] In February 2012, it was reported that Hastings would be released from the lawsuit, and it would only continue against the Helsinki Commission.[22]

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.[23] 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 1981–1989 charges.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

Committee assignments

Leadership positions


  1. ^ Senate Removes Hastings, The Washington Post, October 21, 1989. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  2. ^ Our Campaigns - FL US Senate - D Primary Race - Sep 01, 1970
  3. ^ Federal Judge Acquitted Milwaukee Journal, Feb. 4, 1983
  4. ^ Senate Removes Hastings, The Washington Post, October 21, 1989. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  5. ^ "The Power of the Pardon". 2011-07-15. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  6. ^ "Senate Conviction of Hastings Is Reversed by Judge Sporkin". 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
  10. ^
  11. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Votes". Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  12. ^ Battle of Hastings adds to Pelosi drama MSNBC, Nov. 16, 2006
  13. ^ Pelosi Shuts Hastings Out of Intel Chairmanship NPR, Nov. 28, 2006
  14. ^
  15. ^ Anderson, Rigel (2008-09-24). "Florida Congressman: Palin 'Don't Care Too Much What They Do With Jews and Blacks' - Political Radar". Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  16. ^ "Black Florida congressman apologizes for Palin comments". CNN. 2008-09-29. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  17. ^ Radnofsky, Louise; Farnam, T.W. (May 30, 2009). "Lawmakers Bill Taxpayers For TVs, Cameras, Lexus".  
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ a b Fields, Gary; Mullins, Brody (2011-06-22). "Florida Congressman Faces New Ethics Review". Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  20. ^ McCormack, Simon (2011-06-22). "Alcee Hastings Sexual Harassment Allegation Investigated By Ethics Panel". Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  21. ^ Winsome Packer Claims Alcee Hastings Harassment in Lawsuit
  22. ^ "Alcee Hastings Released From Personal Liability In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit". The Huffington Post. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "Richest and 'poorest' Members of Congress". 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  24. ^ "Calendar Year 2010 Financial Disclosure Statement, The Hon. Alcee Lamar Hastings" (PDF). 
  25. ^ Alcee Hastings Ranks No.1 In Nepotism - Judicial Watch
  26. ^

External links

Legal offices
New seat Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Succeeded by
Federico Moreno
United States House of Representatives
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 23rd congressional district

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

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Luis Gutiérrez
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Eddie Bernice Johnson
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