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Special Election Race Called in Florida

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick has been declared the winner of the special election in Florida to succeed the late Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings in Florida’s 20th congressional district.

Cherfilus-McCormick, a far-left Democrat who vowed on the campaign trail to send Americans a monthly $1,000 check, defeated Republican Jason Mariner, Libertarian Mike ter Maat, and independents Leonard Serratore and Jim Flynn.

Cherfilus-McCormick, whose district was won by Joe Biden in the 2020 election, will have to campaign to keep her seat in the 2022 midterms.

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“We know what was the difference. We had a message for the people and we fought for the people. We were on the ground. We were knocking on doors. We employed the people – most of money went towards stimulating the economy and believing in the people,” Cherfilus-McCormick said.

Hastings passed away last April at 84-years-old after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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The Democratic congressman, who served in Congress for 28 years, was first elected to the House in 1992.

“In late 2018, Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. For much of the ensuing two years, he continued public appearances between medical treatments, but more recently he hadn’t been in public. In recent days, he had been in hospice care. “Alcee was a fighter, and he fought this terrible disease longer than most. He faced it fearlessly, and at times even made fun of it,” said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness,” the Florida Sun-Sentinal reported.

But his tenure was not without controversy.

Back in late 2019, the House Ethics Committee opened up an investigation into Hastings over his relationship with his longtime girlfriend.

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Hastings is one of only eight federal judges in American history who have been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, convicted by the U.S. Senate, and removed from office.

He allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for favorable court rulings.

He was put under investigation in 2019 because his girlfriend not only worked for him as a government employee, she was the highest-paid staffer on his payroll.

“The Ethics Committee didn’t identify the staffer in question, but the case clearly refers to Patricia Williams, the deputy director in Hastings’ office in his Broward-Palm Beach County district,” The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. “Williams, who is the congressman’s highest-paid staffer, and Hastings have been in a relationship for decades. And critics have raised questions about it for years.”

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In a statement, the House Ethics Committee wrote:

The Committee is aware of public allegations arising out of Representative Alcee Hastings’ personal relationship with an individual employed in his congressional office. On May 14, 2019, the Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), began an investigation regarding the allegations. The Committee is specifically considering whether Representative Hastings’ relationship with the individual employed in his congressional office is in violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 18(a), and whether Representative Hastings has received any improper gifts, including any forbearance, from that employee. The Committee continues to gather additional information regarding the allegations.

The Sun-Sentinel reports the relationship may violate the following Congressional rule:

A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves. This paragraph does not apply with respect to any relationship between two people who are married to each other.

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This is not the first time that Hastings has faced controversy involving allegations surroundings relationships.

“The Treasury Department paid $220,000 in a previously undisclosed agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment that involved Florida Democrat Alcee L. Hastings,” Roll Call reported in December 2017. “Winsome Packer, a former staff member of a congressional commission that promotes international human rights, said in documents that the congressman touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job. At the time, Hastings was the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Packer worked.”

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