- Full Name Alcee Hastings
- Occupation Politician, Judge
- Nationality America
- Birthplace Florida, USA
- Birth Date September 5, 1936
Alcee Hastings | Biography 2021
Alcee Hastings was a former judge - the first African-American Federal Judge in Florida, and served as a member of the United States House of Representatives.
Alcee Hastings was a former judge - the first African-American Federal Judge in Florida, and served as a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served Florida's 20th congressional district as a Democrat from 2013 until his death in April 2021.
Who is Alcee Hastings?
Congressman Alcee Hastings was an American politician, former judge, and member of the United States House of Representatives. After working as a lawyer for several years, Hastings began his judicial career in 1977 after being appointed as Judge at Broward County Circuit Court in Florida. In two years, he became the United States District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida, becoming the first African-American Federal Judge.
He was removed from the judicial position in 1987 in connection with a case involving soliciting and accepting bribery.
He also served as the United States House of Representatives for Florida's 23rd congressional district from 1992 to 2012 and Florida's 20th congressional district from 2013 to 2021.
Early Life and Education
Alcee Hastings, in full, Alcee Lamar Hastings was born on September 5, 1936, in Altamonte Springs, Florida, to Julius C and Mildred L. Hastings. His parents were domestic workers (a butler and a housemaid) who eventually emigrated from Florida seeking better jobs to pay for Hastings' education.
Hastings completed his school education from Florida's magnet school Crooms Academy in 1953. Then, he graduated with B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1958 and went to do law at Howard University School of Law in Washington D.C. However, he was expelled from the University for lacking 'seriousness of purpose' as he was jailed several times in the 1950s and 1960s as an activist. Later, he earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee in 1964.
Shortly after the J.D. degree, Hastings, a newly licensed young lawyer, moved to Fort Lauderdale and began working as a civil rights attorney. But, Hastings did not find the Broward County Commission, where he went for his job, as a welcoming place for young black men during the early 1960s. So, Hastings joined W. George Allen's firm in 1964. Hastings, along with his partner Allen, often in alliance with The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), filed lawsuits against restaurants, hotels, and government entities, including the Broward County School District, to end the policy of racial segregation.
After civil unrest exploded in Pompano Beach in 1966, Hastings widely talked about why race riots ripped in the country.
In 1970, he became the first African-American Floridian to run for the United States Senate. He hoped it would help Black Americans overcome their inferiority complex. He lost the first eight races he ran in but gave the Black community a political foundation to build on.
"We did establish credibility in this race," he said. "We proved that a Black man can run for statewide office. A Black man with money can probably win," he added.
In 1977, Hastings was appointed as a Broward County Circuit Court judge in Florida, starting his meteoric judicial career. After serving the position for two years, Hastings became the first African-American Federal Judge in Florida in 1979 when U.S. President Jimmy Carter appointed him as the United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida.
In October 1981, the FBI's sting operation found Hastings and Washington D.C. attorney William A. Borders engaging in a corrupt conspiracy. They were charged with conspiracy and perjury for soliciting a $150,000 bribe from the convicted for lenient sentences. However, Hastings was acquitted in the criminal court on February 4, 1983, and returned to his judicial position.
Despite the acquittal, a special committee of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals began a new probe into the Hastings case in 1986 due to suspicion that Hastings had falsified evidence during the criminal trial. The investigation found him guilty of conspiracy, bribery, perjury, falsifying documents, impeding a criminal investigation, and subverting public confidence. The House of Representatives voted 413 to 3 on August 3, 1988, approving 17 articles of impeachment against Hastings. After a year of impeachment proceedings, Hastings was convicted on eight articles in the Senate on October 20, 1989. He was then detached from the federal court.
United States House of Representatives
In 1992, Hastings won the election and became the United States House of Representatives for Florida's 23rd Congressional District. In the heavily Democratic district, Hastings became the first African-American elected to Congress from Florida since the post-Civil War period. While serving at the U.S. House of Representatives, Hastings also served as the Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
Hastings was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. As a senior Democratic Whip, he put forward his leading voice, underscoring his commitment to work closely on a bi-partisan basis with his colleagues in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He also founded the Congressional Everglades Caucus in the House of Representatives to promote legislation that would provide long-term funding for Everglades-related projects.
Additionally, Hastings served as a member of the House Rules Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). On HPSCI, he was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He also served as Vice Chairman of the House Rules Committee in the 117th Congress.
Hastings was the representative for Florida's 23rd congressional district until 2012. Then, he represented Florida's 20th congressional district as a Democrat from 2013 to 2021.
Hastings went through a controversy when the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hastings' relationship with a staffer. The House rules do not allow lawmakers to be romantically involved with staff but can employ their spouses. The Committee dismissed its investigation after he married the staffer.
Hastings again confronted controversy when he was found paying Patricia Williams the maximum congressional salary for seven years in a row. She served as Hastings' lawyer during the criminal trial but later became his chief of staff, girlfriend, and wife.
Williams appeared at the top on his payroll in 2000, receiving the maximal congressional wage of $168,411 throughout 2018. She was paid nearly $3 million in taxpayer-funded salary since 2000. The property records also showed that the couple bought a $700,000 house together near Boynton Beach in 2017.
On January 14, 2019, Hastings announced he was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer but served Congress until his death.
After battling pancreatic cancer for two years, Hastings passed away on April 6, 2021, at 84.
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