‘Outraged’ by $220,000 settlement in Hastings case

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, says he didn’t know about a $220,000 settlement paid to a former staffer and is “outraged” by it.

Taxpayers spent $220,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that involved U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call reported Friday night.

Hastings has denied the claims in the suit and says he’s “outraged” by the settlement.

Winsome Packer, a staffer on the congressional Helsinki Commission that Hastings once chaired, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against Hastings and the commission. A federal judge dismissed the claims against Hastings — but not the commission — in 2012.

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The House Ethics Committee in 2014 also cleared Hastings in a sexual harassment complaint filed by Packer.

But the ethics panel’s report also said Hastings “admitted to certain conduct that is less than professional.”

Hastings “hugs many people frequently,” the report said, and while a hug “on its own, is not sexual harassment…hugging is not the most professional way to greet coworkers, and different individuals have different comfort levels for touching others.”

The ethics report also said Hastings showed “poor judgment” when he admitted to comments “about not being able to sleep after sex, and another about female Members of Congress wearing the same underwear all day.”