Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida believes that lawmakers “aren’t being paid properly” with their current salaries at $174,000 a year. However, this proclamation has prompted Hastings' own trouble finances to come to light.
The statement that Congressional members deserve a pay raise is surprising to hear from Rep. Hastings, as he still owes millions of dollars in legal fees from fighting corruption and bribery charges in the late 1980s.
According to Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, “aside from access to subsidized travel, gym memberships, haircuts, and the like, congressmen have a retirement plan which averages about $40,000 a year for retired members.”
Hastings, a former judge, has had financial troubles in the past, due to his legal battles and mortgage payments.
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According to the congressman’s most recent financial disclosure forms, he still owes legal fees to several lawyers defending him for over a decade. The figures include:
$500,000 - $1 million to Robert Catz, from 1981-1985
$1 million - $5 million to Terrance Anderson, from 1981-1989
$500,000 - $1 million to Patricia Williams, from 1981-1989
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$100,000 - $250,000 to Karr and McClain, from 1983-1989
$15,000 - $50,000 to Mark McDonald, from 1981-1983
$15,000 - $50,000 to Lewis Meyers, from 1981-1983
$100,000 - $250,000 to Bright Star, for a mortgage at his residence in Miramar, Florida, from 2009
Altogether, the congressman is an estimated $7.5 million in debt, with the majority coming from legal fees.
Just two years following former President Jimmy Carter appointing Hastings to a federal judiciary position, an FBI operation concluded that Hastings was soliciting bribes from defendants in exchange for lesser punishments and sentencing time, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
While it was a friend of Hastings, named William Borders, who accepted a $150,000 bribe on Hastings’ behalf, a later investigation found that Hastings was likely an accomplice in the matter, despite being acquitted previously.
Hastings was later found guilty of lying under oath during Borders’ trial, receiving 17 charges against him from the U.S. House of Representatives.
After being removed from his judiciary position, the congressman sued and stated he was “improperly convicted” by a committee in the U.S. Senate, who voted to convict Hastings on six of the 17 charges.
Hastings has again made his financial troubles public with his statements on raising lawmakers’ salaries.
“Most congressman don’t complain about their sweet deal since they voted for it," Boehm told The Washington Free Beacon. "Of course, most congressman don’t have millions in past due legal bills from defending against corruption charges."
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