The House Ethics Committee has cleared Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, in a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former staffer with the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The action comes nearly three years after a federal judge dismissed former Helsinki Commission staffer Winsome Packer’s claims of harassment by Hastings in a federal lawsuit.
Hastings has vehemently denied claims by Packer that he made unwelcome sexual advances, touched her inappropriately, made inappropriate comments and then conspired with other staffers to retaliate against her after she raised concerns.
Hastings has accused Packer of trying to promote a self-published novel that deals with sexual harassment.
The Ethics Committee, in a report released Thursday, said it found “no additional credible evidence supporting Complainant’s claims. In fact, much of the evidence reviewed cast further doubt on many of the most serious allegations.”
But the committee report also says Hastings “admitted to certain conduct that is less than professional.”
Hastings “hugs many people frequently,” the report said, and while a hug “on its own, is not sexual harassment…hugging is not the most professional way to greet coworkers, and different individuals have different comfort levels for touching others.”
The report also said Hastings showed “poor judgment” when he admitted to comments “about not being able to sleep after sex, and another about female Members of Congress wearing the same underwear all day.”