Congressman Faces Sexual Harassment Charges

June 22, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — 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.  Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said his organization has been contacted by House investigators. “We can confirm that Ms. Packer is cooperating with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” he said.

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