The Kamala Harris campaign proudly announced an endorsement from Democratic representative Alcee Hastings (Fla.), an ethically challenged longtime lawmaker who was at the center of a $220,000 taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlement.
Harris said she was "proud to have" the Florida congressman's endorsement, which was hailed by CNN as a big win in her effort to win over black voters in the south. Unmentioned in the piece are any of Hastings's shortcomings, which include not only the sexual harassment settlement, but also that he's employing a convicted money launderer, is paying his girlfriend the maximum congressional salary, and is known as one of the top ethics violators in Congress.
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While on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Hastings was charged with soliciting a $150,000 bribe from undercover FBI officers. Hastings was acquitted after his alleged conspirator refused to testify despite a promise of immunity, but he was instead successfully impeached by a Democrat-controlled Congress.
The $220,000 sexual harassment settlement was paid in 2014, but did not surface until 2017, when Roll Call obtained documents showing a former staffer said Hastings "touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job." Hastings denies the accusations and said he was "outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid" to his accuser.
Harris was also endorsed this week by Rep. Al Green (D., Texas), who was made Texas co-chairman of her campaign and has also been accused of sexual harassment by a staffer. He also denied the accusation, saying he and his accuser "are friends."
Harris was criticized earlier this year for her claim that she was unaware of sexual harassment committed by one of her longtime aides Larry Wallace, who worked under her both in her Senate office and in her previous roles in California.
The state paid out a $400,000 settlement for harassment committed by Wallace while he was a top official under her at the California Department of Justice. Wallace immediately resigned from his role as senior advisor in her Senate office after the settlement became public, and Harris said she was "unaware" of the incident and payment.
Wallace was praised by Harris in her new book, The Truths We Hold, for his leadership of a team she created as California's attorney general. He was also featured in a picture included in the book.
The editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, which broke the story of the settlement, was skeptical of her ignorance of the incident.
"Wallace wasn't out on the periphery of Harris' staff; he was a senior aide she knew for 14 years—hardly a stranger," the paper wrote. "For Harris to flatly deny any knowledge of this settlement seems, shall we say, far-fetched."