The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it is investigating Rep. Alcee L. Hastings and whether his relationship with a staffer, Patricia Williams, violates rules that forbid members from having sexual relationships with any subordinates in the House.
“I have cooperated with the Committee since May 14, 2019. As they continue to conduct their work, I stand ready to fully cooperate with their inquiry,” the Florida Democrat said in a statement.
The Ethics Committee said it is “aware of public allegations arising out of Representative Alcee Hastings’ personal relationship with an individual employed in his congressional office.”
There is a nepotism rule in the House that forbids members from hiring family members, but that rule does not apply to employees hired before the 113th Congress. Nepotism rules do not apply to a significant other, such as a girlfriend or boyfriend.
In February of 2018, House rules were updated to include a clause prohibiting members from engaging in sexual relationships with subordinates.
The committee, led by Chairman Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, and ranking member Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, is additionally considering whether Hastings has received improper gifts from Williams.
Williams makes $168,411 annually as the office’s deputy district director, the highest salary in Hasting’s office. The next highest staffer salary is that of Lale Morrison, the chief of staff, who makes $88,411 a year, according to payroll records from May 2019.
The average salary for a district director in 2018 was $94,042, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
This is the third such recent announcement of an Ethics Committee investigation into a member or delegate allegedly having sexual relations with a subordinate.
The committee announced on Oct. 23 it was investigating California Democrat Katie Hill amid allegations she was involved with a staffer. She resigned on Oct. 31.
On Oct. 24, the panel announced an investigation of Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, D-Guam, regarding an alleged relationship with a staffer and other issues.
The Ethics Committee declined to comment.
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