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Alcee Lamar Hastings (born September 5, 1936) is a member of the United States House of Representatives representing ( map).

A Representative since 1993 and a Democrat, Hastings was previously a lawyer and judge. He spent ten years as a federal judge (1979-1989), but was impeached and removed from office for corruption and perjury. He was the sixth federal judge to be impeached and removed from office in American history.

Early career

Born in Altamonte Springs, Floridamarker, Hastings was educated at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennesseemarker and Howard Universitymarker in Washington, D.C.marker. He received his law degree from Florida A&M Universitymarker in 1963, and began to practice law.

Hastings ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1970, losing in the first primary to Lawton Chiles. In 1977, he became a judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Floridamarker. In 1979, he was appointed by President Carter as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

Impeachment

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. He was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate, becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed, providing five votes more than the two-thirds of those present that were needed to convict. The first article accused the judge of conspiracy. Conviction on any single article was enough to remove the judge from office. The Senate vote cut across party lines, with U.S. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont voting to convict his fellow party member, and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter voting to acquit.

The Senate had the option to forbid Hastings from ever seeking federal office again, but did not do so. Alleged co-conspirator, attorney William Borders went to jail again for refusing to testify in the impeachment proceedings, but was later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office.

Hastings filed suit in federal court claiming that his impeachment trial was invalid because he was tried by a Senate committee, not in front of the full Senate, and that he had been acquitted in a criminal trial. Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled in favor of Hastings, remanding the case back to the Senate, but stayed his ruling pending the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Courtmarker in a similar case regarding Judge Walter Nixon, who had also been impeached and removed.

Sporkin found some "crucial distinctions" between Nixon's case and Hastings's, specifically, that Nixon had been convicted criminally, and that Hastings was not found guilty by two-thirds of the committee who actually "tried" his impeachment in the Senate. He further added that Hastings had a right to trial by the full Senate.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in Nixon v. United States that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over Senate impeachment matters, so Sporkin's ruling was vacated and Hastings's conviction and removal were upheld.

Candidacy for state office

In 1990, Hastings attempted to make a political comeback by running for Secretary of State of Florida, campaigning on a platform of legalizing casinos. In a three-way Democratic primary, he placed second with 313,758 votes, or 33%, behind newspaper columnist Jim Minter's 357,340 votes (38%) and ahead of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon John Paul Rogers' 275,370 votes (29%). In the runoff, which saw a large dropoff in turnout, Hastings lost to Minter in a landslide, 300,022 votes to 146,375. Minter would go on to lose the general election to incumbent Republican Jim Smith.

Congressional career

Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, representing Florida's 23rd district. After placing second in the initial Democratic primary for the post, he scored an upset victory over State Representative Lois J. Frankel in the runoff and went on to easily win election in the heavily-Democratic district. From that point on he has yet to face a serious challenge for reelection.

He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in July 2004. Today, as a Senior Democratic Whip, Hastings is an influential member of the Democratic leadership. Congressman Hastings is also a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and is a senior Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). On the HPSCI, Hastings is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohiomarker in the 2004 presidential election.

Hastings voted to impeach Texas federal judge Samuel B. Kent on all four counts presented against him on June 19, 2009.

House Intelligence Committee controversy

After the 2006 United States House of Representatives elections, Hastings attracted controversy after it was reported that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might appoint him as head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pelosi reportedly favored Hastings instead of the ranking Democrat Jane Harman due to political differences and support for Hastings by the Congressional Black Caucus.

On November 28, 2006, Pelosi announced that Hastings would not be the Committee's chairman, and later she chose Silvestre Reyes instead. While Congressman Hastings was passed over to chair the committee he became chair of a sub-committee.

Controversial comments regarding Sarah Palin

On September 24, 2008, Hastings came under fire for controversial comments made regarding Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Hastings, speaking in Washington D.C.marker to a conference sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council, said "If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through."

On September 29, 2008, Hastings issued a tepid apology via a written statement; "I regret the comments I made last Tuesday that were not smart and certainly not relevant to hunters or sportsmen. The point I made, and will continue to make, is that the policies and priorities of a McCain-Palin administration would be anathema to most African Americans and Jews. I regret that I was not clearer and apologize to Governor Palin, my host where I was speaking, and those who my comments may have offended."

Use of Expense Allowance

According to the Wall Street Journal, Representative Hastings spent over $24,000 in taxpayer money in 2008 to lease a luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. Although unusual, the expenditure was legal, properly accounted for, and drawn from an expense allowance the U.S. government grants to all lawmakers.

Committee assignments



Leadership positions

  • Florida Congressional Delegation (Co-Chairman)
  • Senior Democratic Whip


See also



Notes

  • Ruth Marcus, "Senate Removes Hastings" Washington Post, October 21, 1989; Page A01. [49246]
  • Kenneth J. Cooper, "Hastings Joins His Former Accusers" Washington Post, January 6, 1993; Page A10.[49247]
  • "Alcee Hastings scandal proves H. Paul Rico a gifted gangster" By Howie Carr, Boston Herald Columnist; Wednesday, November 22, 2006 — Updated: 12:35 AM EST [49248]


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