Rep. Alcee Hastings faces ethics probe for romantic relationship with staffer

By Sarah Ferris

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it has opened an investigation into Rep. Alcee Hastings amid allegations that he is engaged in an intimate relationship with an aide in his office.

The Florida Democrat’s longtime relationship with his staffer, Patricia Williams, has come under more intense scrutiny just weeks after the resignation of Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), who had been under investigation for a similar allegation. House rules bar lawmakers from having romantic relationships with aides or committee staffers.

The Ethics Committee did not specifically name Williams, though it clearly references their relationship, which has been documented in reporting by the Palm Beach Post and the Sun Sentinel.

Hastings has dismissed concerns about dating Williams, who has been employed in his office since 2000, according to LegiStorm. The two also purchased a $700,000 house together in 2017, according to the Palm Beach Post..

“However it looks, it’s been looking like that for 25 years,” Hastings told the Palm Beach Post this fall. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hastings was the subject of an ethics investigation in 2012, when a woman who once worked for him accused him of sexual harassment. The woman said he made unwanted sexual advances and threatened her job.

Hastings denied the accusations and was ultimately cleared in the investigation, but later faced a lawsuit by the woman. She ultimately received a settlement of $220,000 using public funds.

In the current investigation, the Ethics panel acknowledged “public allegations arising out of Representative Alcee Hastings’ personal relationship with an individual employed in his congressional office,” but did not offer more details.

A 26-year veteran of the House, Hastings is the longest-serving member of the Florida delegation. He is also undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.