A government watchdog group has named Rep. Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.) one of the top ethics violators of the year for his continued maxed out congressional payments to his longtime girlfriend, based on reporting from the Washington Free Beacon.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, released the list of its top five ethics violators on Monday that includes the unknown members of Congress who are tied to sexual harassment settlement funds, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for employing a House IT aide under criminal investigation, Rep. John Lewis for employing and compensating his current chief of staff as a campaign treasurer, Rep. Hastings for his lucrative congressional payments to his girlfriend, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and DNC Chair Tom Perez for illegally transferring funds from his campaign committee to his former opponents.
The Free Beacon previously reported that Hastings was paying Patricia Williams, his longtime girlfriend who served as his co-counsel during his impeachment trail as a federal judge in the 1980's, the maximum congressional salary of $168,411 to work as the deputy district director in his in Broward County, Fla., office.
Williams has collected the maximum congressional salary for five straight years and is the highest compensated individual on the federal payroll of Hastings. Williams, who is paid more than Hastings' D.C. chief of staff, typically the highest paid position in a congressional office, has collected more than $2.4 million since 2000.
FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics in March calling for an investigation into the payments. The watchdog noted that although the personal relationship is not prohibited, personal ties raise concerns of favoritism or unjust payments from United States Treasury funds.
Maisha Williams, Patricia's daughter, is additionally employed as a staff assistant in Hastings' district office.
Hastings has also paid a convicted money launderer more than $75,000 as a "part-time" employee out of his district office, although the employee's job duties are not entirely clear. The congressman's office did not return previous Free Beacon inquiries on the aide's job duties and how many hours per week the aide works.