Ethics panel probing Democrat Alcee Hastings for sexual harassment

An independent ethics organization is looking into allegations that Rep. Alcee Hastings, sexually harassed a female staff member, according to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which brought the suit against the Florida Democrat.

Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, said that investigators with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), contacted plaintiff Winsome Packer about the case in May.

“They contacted Ms. Packer and she’s fully cooperating,” Fitton told Hotsheet on Wednesday.

Packer, a staffer on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), filed a law suit against Hastings in March, alleging that she received “unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments and unwelcome touching by Mr. Hastings” between 2008 and 2010, while he was co-chairman of the commission.

The lawsuit also alleges that Fred Turner, Hastings’s former chief of staff and a former staff director for the CSCE, tried to retaliate against Packer and issued “threats of termination” as a result of her continued complaints against Hastings. Both Turner and the CSCE are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

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