Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.
A Washington watchdog group is trying to make sure Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings does not rise to the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence without the public knowing the full record surrounding his 1989 impeachment as a federal judge, including condemnation from a fellow black lawmaker and leading member of his party.
The non-profit CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has posted records of the congressional impeachment proceedings of Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was convicted by the Senate after the House impeached him on bribery and perjury charges.
The House transcript shows Rep. John Conyers of Michigan disputed allegations Hastings was a victim of discrimination because he is black.
Conyers said that while some suggested the House’s decision might be affected by racism, “I do not believe that to be the case.”
“A black public official must be held to the same standard as every other public official,” Conyers said. “A lower standard would be patronizing. A higher standard would be racist. Just as race should never disqualify a person from office, race should never insulate a person from the consequences of wrongful conduct.”
Hastings released a letter Wednesday to Democratic members of the House saying he deserves the job despite his conviction, the Los Angeles Times reported. The congressman lashed out at his critics, saying they were bent on “denying me a position I have certainly earned and am completely competent to perform.”
Incoming speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco has indicated she would pave the way for Hastings by removing the senior-ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jane Harman, in favor of a stronger critic of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.
Pelosi, who has vowed to have the most ethical House leadership ever, already has faced embarrassment with her endorsement of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for the party’s No. 2 post. Murtha, who was implicated in the Abscam scandal in the early 1970s as an unindicted co-conspirator, eventually lost to Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
But the Times says Pelosi has a debt to settle with the Congressional Black Caucus over the removal of another black lawmaker from the panel.
Hastings, in his letter, decries conservative commentators and “anonymous bloggers and other assorted misinformed fools” for fomenting “the noise and misleading, poorly informed, misinformed, and sometimes venomous attacks on my integrity and character by pundits, politicians, and editors screaming the word ‘impeachment.'”
Hastings argues he was acquitted in a 1983 criminal trial based on allegations he conspired to accept a $150,000 bribe for granting a lenient sentence to two defendants convicted in his court of racketeering.
Hastings, nevertheless, was impeached by the House by a 69-26 vote and convicted in the Senate on eight of 17 articles of impeachment. He has been in Congress since 1992.
He ascribes the defeat to politics and charges the FBI falsified evidence.
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