The House Ethics Committee cleared Rep. Alcee Hastings of a sexual harassment case in the waning hours of the 113th Congress, but chided the Florida Democrat for unprofessional behavior with a female employee of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Two comments Hastings admitted to making during a 2008 trip to Vienna — one about not being able to sleep after sex, and another about female members of Congress wearing the same underwear all day — were deemed inappropriate. However, like a federal judge did in 2012, the Ethics Committee is letting Hastings off the hook. After interviewing four witnesses, the committee said it did not find substantial reason to believe allegations by Winsome Packer, a Republican aide on the commission, regarding the lawmaker making unwelcome sexual advances.
"While the conduct proven in this case does not constitute misconduct violating the standards under the Committee's jurisdiction, it is far from perfectly professional," the 17-page report states. "The Committee advises Members and other in a supervisory role to scrupulously avoid even the impression of a workplace tainted by sexism."
Hastings' office did not respond to request for comment.
Related: Alcee Hastings Admits Sexual Comments but Denies Harassment Ethics Panel Continues to Probe Rep. Alcee Hastings The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.