Alcee Hastings, the Democrat who just can't stay out of trouble
Can Democrat stalwart, Florida's Rep. Alcee Hastings, stay out of trouble? Apparently not. He's in hot water again on a new corruption rap and doesn't seem to be fazed at all. It's just another day in the life of Alcee Hastings. Long failing upward, Hastings got his congressional seat after he was thrown out of the Florida judiciary for corruption.
According to the Washington Free Beacon:
A convicted money launderer employed by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.) in one of his Florida district offices received a pay increase for "part-time" work last year, new salary data filings show.
Additionally, Hastings's longtime girlfriend Patricia Williams appears to have received a promotion, though she did not get a raise since she is already receiving the maximum salary that is allowed to be paid to congressional staffers.
His gamy past as a judge is now being repeated in a new ethics violation around the matter of two staffers, one in what looks like an inflated salary for a no-show job for a crook, and the other a girlfriend in a title scam. It follows a House ethics violations investigation in 2014 on sexual harassment allegations, which the House verified but did nothing about. Apparently, that one cost taxpayers big. He got listed by a government watchdog last December at the fourth most corrupt person in Congress, for the girlfriend stuff. Looks as if there are two over-compensated girlfriends from his taxpayer payroll here, so it's hard to keep track.
Same old Alcee Hastings. He's like one of those bottom-feeding creatures in the depths of the swamp who can be nourished by toxic garbage that would take any other beast out of circulation.
Did he change any after the bad experience of getting thrown out as a judge for malfeasance? Did he present himself as a "new Hastings" to get voters to reconsider him? It's normal for someone who's been in that kind of trouble to become super-vigilant about dotting is and crossing ts and avoiding even the appearance of corruption, but, well, not him. He got elected just fine on the record he had and apparently took that as a signal to just keep doing what he was doing.
It's an odd thing, well outside the political mainstream, in fact. Over here in San Diego, one of our Republican congressmen with the best voting record, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr., is under fire for misusing campaign contributions and is now up to his neck in primary challengers. No such misfortune for Hastings, who keeps getting re-elected again and again and experiences no pressure to clean up his act from the Democrats.
I actually spent time with Hastings, on what's called a congressional delegation, or "codel," traveling to Colombia as part of the official press delegation with then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in 2008. The congressmembers were all Democrats. Hastings was on the flight. As a member of the press, I found Hastings one of the most cordial and reasonable and likable of members, just as a person, and apparently pretty reasonable about trade, which most Democrats are not. He was easy to talk to, and yes, he knew I was a hardcore conservative, so he gets points for that, because a lot of Democrats aren't housebroken on that front. My sense is, he keeps getting re-elected because he's a nice person.
But cripes, why can't he get his hand out of the till? Is it always a "love" thing with him? "I steal from the till to show love to people?" Is that it? I don't know. What is it that allows such behavior to keep going on, most significantly, without consequence?
It boils down to him being a Democrat and understanding that in his party, there are few standards. Just the brouhaha over throwing Sen. Al Franken out of office shows how hard it is for any of them to be held accountable. Franken was thrown out only because Democrats wanted to get on the #MeToo movement's good side, not because any Democrat objected to his behavior. Hastings is black and represents a district with a black-majority plurality of 45.7%, which probably gives him an extra coat of protection among the Democrats, but the fact that he represents a voting district with a large black voting bloc means there ought to be other competition out there with the right racial composition, including people who are not corrupt. Yet somehow, Hastings seems to keep going, given the Democrats' habit of taking the black vote for granted. It allows them to shovel anything at them. Hastings proves it.
Republicans should hammer on this in the upcoming midterms since the Democrats won't. The guy gets away with anything because he's golden to Democrats. If this is their idea of gold, well, he's ready to become a campaign issue over his continuous corruption.