American taxpayers shelled out $220,000 to settle sexual harassment accusations against Democratic Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings, a new report reveals.
The Office of Compliance approved the settlement in 2014 after Winsome Packer, a former congressional staffer on a commission chaired by Hastings, accused the Democratic congressman of making sexual advances, touching her and threatening her job, documents obtained by Roll Call reveal.
Packer told Roll Call that she was “blackballed” after the incident.
“As an immigrant who came here with all these ideals, it is like someone just removed all the foundations that I stood on in this country for all these years,” she said. Packer was born in Jamaica, according to Roll Call.
Hastings, who has served in Congress since 1993, is the latest congressman to be caught up in a sexual harassment scandal.
Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers resigned on Tuesday following a flood of sexual harassment allegations against him. Sworn affidavits signed by four of Conyers’ former staffer describe him as a sexual predator who demanded sexual favors from his female staffers and abused taxpayer resources.
After one former female staffer accused Conyers of firing her in retaliation for refusing his sexual advances, Conyers paid off the woman with $27,000 in taxpayer funds in exchange for her silence.
Taxpayers also footed the bill after Republican Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold settled a sexual harassment suit with a former female staffer for $84,000. Farenthold and his current chief of staff reportedly directed a stream of lewd comments at the female staffer, who said the congressman fired her when she complained. Farenthold, who has denied wrongdoing, pledged to repay taxpayers for the settlement.
Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced his forthcoming resignationafter eight different women accused him of groping or forcibly kissing them. Six different women accused Franken of groping their butts or breasts.
Republican Arizona Rep. Trent Franks also announced his resignation this week after he reportedly asked female staffers to be a surrogate for himself and his wife, who were having fertility issues.
Democratic California Rep. Ruben Kihuen is also facing pressure to resign after he allegedly sexually harassed a female campaign staffer during his congressional campaign in 2016.
Kihuen, who has refused to resign, has said that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was aware of the accusations during the campaign and supported him anyway.