The House Ethics Committee may have to tick one Congressional Black Caucus member off of its list of alleged rule-breakers. A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) and his former chief of staff can’t be held personally liable in a sexual harassment suit brought by a staffer who worked with them on the Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Although Hastings has admitted having a bit of a loose tongue over drinks with staffers, he has long denied claims by Winsome Parker that he and then-aide Fred Turner covered up the congressman’s alleged improper behavior and when she complained, threatened to fire her.
“In a race with a lie, the truth always wins. Today the truth prevailed in a court of law, and I am glad to see that these bogus allegations have finally been dismissed,” Hasting said in a statement released by his office.
In January the ethics panel announced a decision to not conduct a full-scale investigation of Hastings, but said it would continue to review the case.
But California Rep. Laura Richardson may not be so lucky. Politico is reporting that Richardson, who already is facing an investigation into whether she pressured aides to work on her re-election campaign and run personal errands for her, may face an additional query into whether she also forced them to perform political redistricting work. According to House rules, taxpayer-funded congressional staffers aren’t allowed to participate in political activities, including redistricting, but they can answer a constituent question about the process and attend meetings at which it is being discussed.
Richardson’s attorney issued a statement calling the allegations in the Politico report “groundless.”
Richardson’s district was ultimately redrawn and she will compete in a primary race against her colleague, Rep. Janice Hahn, who has won the state Democratic Party’s endorsement. Richardson’s Capitol Hill colleagues wouldn’t be saddened to see her go, a senior Democratic aide told BET.com. She recently called out Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic caucus meeting for supporting a pay freeze for lawmakers and reportedly said that not everyone is as wealthy as Pelosi.
“They’re trying to push Richardson out. There’s a general sense that they’d be better off without her because she’s always getting negative attention,” the aide said.
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