The recent resignation of Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) amid allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with members of her staff is now bringing other ethically questionable congressional scenarios into the spotlight.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is being accused of violating the House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct by having his girlfriend work as a member of his congressional staff, the Palm Beach Post reports.
In plain sight
In 2018, the House passed a rule that prevents members of Congress from having a sexual relationship with staffers, which reads:
A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves. This paragraph does not apply with respect to any relationship between two people who are married to each other.
The situation in Hastings’ office would appear to be an obvious violation of the above prohibition.
Since 2000, the 83-year-old congressman has been employing Patricia Williams, a disbarred lawyer who is also his girlfriend. During that time, according to government-focused research enterprise LegiStorm, Williams has made nearly $3 million in taxpayer-funded salary.
The last time that Hastings publicly affirmed his relationship with Williams was in April of this year. Just two years ago, in 2017, the pair bought a $700,000 house together, according to The Epoch Times, and there is no publicly known reason to suspect that they have since split.
When previously asked about the relationship, Hastings is on record as saying, “My personal business is just that, personal.” Of course, when you are a representative of the public, your professional undertakings, including whom you choose to hire, are anything but private.
But, Hastings does not seem to understand that. “However it looks, it’s been looking like that for 25 years,” he said in another interview.
Yet another double standard
If this is such an obvious violation of the rules, one wonders why Hastings has not been investigated, particularly in light of the recent events that ended Katie Hill’s congressional career. That, too, is what some of his House colleagues are asking.
“His flouting of the rules is legendary,” said former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA). “This is open and shut. He is in violation.”
She went on: “There is a sense that there are people who get away with it and people who don’t.”
Is this yet another glaring double standard from which the Democrats benefit? Time will tell as to whether Hastings is ever officially taken to task for what has apparently been an open secret in the halls of Congress for years.