Thursday, June 23, 2011

Independent ethics panel probing Rep. Alcee Hastings for sexual harassment

[ SOURCE ] An independent ethics organization is looking into allegations that Rep. Alcee Hastings, sexually harassed a female staff member.

Investigators with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), contacted plaintiff Winsome Packer about the case in May.

Packer, a staffer on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), filed a law suit against Hastings in March, alleging that she received "unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments and unwelcome touching by Mr. Hastings" between 2008 and 2010, while he was co-chairman of the commission.

Hastings has strongly denied the allegations against him, and suggested that "personal agendas" are at play.

"I will win this lawsuit. That is a certainty," Hastings said in March, when the suit was brought against him. "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."

Hasting's lawyer, Tonya Robinson, reiterated the denial this week, noting that Hastings,"in the strongest terms, denies the charges."

"He is confident that he will be fully exonerated," Robinson told the Wall Street Journal. "Mr. Hastings has stated unequivocally that the record will show that the plaintiff's claims are untruthful and without merit."

The OCE has 90 days to investigate the case before issuing a recommendation as to whether or not the Ethics Committee should continue the investigation. The OCE is not authorized to comment on the case during the investigatory period.

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