Democratic Rep. [score]Alcee Hastings[/score] (D-Fla.) is under fire (again) for unethical use of taxpayer dollars during his time as a Congressman. Hastings was once a federal judge who was impeached by for financial misconduct and then convicted and removed from office in 1989. Fortunately for him, the voters in Broward County don’t mind corrupt and unethical politicians, so they elected him to office in 1993 and he’s been their Congressman for almost 25 years now.
Based on recent revelations, it appears the old adage about old dogs and new tricks remains true. Hastings has been accused of misusing taxpayer dollars, but this time its his longtime girlfriend who seems to have been the main beneficiary.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a D.C.-based group, filed the complaint following the publication of a story in the Washington Free Beacon on the amount the Florida congressman has paid his girlfriend, Patricia Williams, who works out of his Broward County, Fla. office.
Hastings has paid Williams the maximum congressional salary allowed, $168,411, for five straight years and has employed her since 1993. Williams has collected $2.4 million in salary since 2000, the first year congressional salary data is readily available. Williams is also paid more than Hastings’ [sic] D.C. chief of staff, a position that is normally the highest paid in a congressional office.
The complaint from FACT outlines why they believe an investigation should be immediately conducted:
This relationship [between Hastings and Williams] along with the facts that Williams has been paid the maximum amount permitted by law for several years and is Hastings’ [sic] highest compensated employee, but not the staff member that generally has the most responsibilities, indicates serious ethical concerns. The House Ethics rules prohibit a Member from discriminating unfairly by dispensing special favors. More specifically, the House Code of Official Conduct prohibits a Member from retaining employees on the Member’s payroll who do not perform official duties commensurate with the compensation received. Each Member is ‘accountable for the pay and performance of staff.’
If Hastings were running a company in the private sector, he could pay his employees whatever he felt they deserved. However, this is not the private sector and these are taxpayer dollars he’s using to enrich his “squeeze.” Time for the 80-year-old congressman to settle his debt — in jail.