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Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment

11:42 PM, Jun 21, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Democrats were no doubt looking for a bit of a breather now that the Anthony Weiner scandal is receding. But this news won't help with that one bit:

A congressional ethics panel is investigating allegations that Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings sexually harassed a member of his staff, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation of Mr. Hastings is being conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the House's independent ethics investigative arm, and it is at a preliminary stage.

It began at least a month ago after Judicial Watch, a conservative group, filed a lawsuit as the legal counsel for Winsome Packer, a staffer on a commission Mr. Hastings headed. She alleged that she had been sexually harassed by the congressman and that he retaliated when she tried to report it.

At the time, Mr. Hastings was chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a group set up in the 1970s to monitor a Cold-War era pact. Ms. Packer, a Republican, also worked for the commission.

Note that Hastings' ethical record is less than stellar -- in 1988 he became the sixth federal judge in history to be impeached by Congress after Hastings was charged with perjury and taking $150,000 bribe. Then in 1993, he was elected to Congress.

The investigation into Hastings is just adds to the Democrats' nearly unprecedented string of scandals in recent years -- a topic I discussed in detail in the current issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

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