The federal government used $220,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Democrat lawmaker, according to a report.
Winsome Packer, a congressional staffer who worked on a commission that promotes international human rights, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) accusing him of sexual harassment, according to documents obtained by Roll Call.
Hastings chaired the commission, known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, at the time Packer worked there.
Packer claimed that Hastings made crude sexual comments and unwanted sexual advances toward her during his time as chairman of the commission, adding that the Florida Democrat retaliated against her after filing a complaint.
Hastings denied that Packer’s accusations were true, and claimed in documents that he did not sexually harass her.
“Until this evening, I had not seen the settlement agreement between the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Ms. Packer,” Hastings said in a statement Friday night. “This matter was handled solely by the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made.”
“I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer,” the Florida congressman added.
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against Hastings, but not the commission, in 2012, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The House Ethics Committee ultimately cleared Hastings of sexual harassment charges after conducting an investigation into the claims in 2014, around the same time the Treasury Department paid out the settlement.
The Treasury Department’s $220,000 settlement was not included in the Office of Compliance’s (OOC) list of payouts to settle harassment claims, which dates from fiscal year (FY) 1997 to FY 2017.
Breitbart News reported that the OOC list shows $17 million worth of payments to settle the claims.