Monday, September 05, 2016

Florida's Culture Of Corruption-- Alcee Hastings Meets The Murphys


Alcee's and Patrick's hands and beverages

FL-20 is one of the most heavily Democratic congressional districts in the country. The PVI is D+29 and Romney only got 17% of the vote there. 52% of the population is black and 21% is Latino. It's also the 408th poorest district of the country's 435 districts with a median income of $37,105-- more than $10,000 below the median income for the state of Florida. Only one district is worse off economically-- another bizarrely gerrymandered district, represented by Corrine Brown, who was just defeated by the voters after being indicted on 24 counts of fraud. The voters of FL-20 should consider doing what the voters of FL-05 just did: remove and replace their own corrupt congressman, Alcee Hastings.

FL-20, which is a ridiculously contrived district drawn to gather up as many African-Americans in Southeast Florida as possible, creating a safer than safe black seat, while removing Democratic voters from the Republican-friendly 18th district. FL-20 includes much of the Everglades but that isn't where the voters live (although some voters live in the sugar growing areas around the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee). Most of the voters live in Broward county's black neighborhoods around Ft. Lauderdale-- Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, inland Pompano Beach, Tamarac, and Sunrise-- and in another outstretched arm west of ritzy West Palm Beach, again, black neighborhoods inland from the Treasure Coast. Republicans often don't even bother to run candidates against him and when they did in 2014, Hastings got 82% of the vote. His opponent this coming November, Gary Stein, hasn't even raised the $5,000 that would trigger an FEC filing, while Hastings had raised $614,441 by the August 10 filing deadline, only 3% of it from small contributions, most of his cash coming from big donors and PACs. Hastings, for example is the #1 recipient of campaign cash from the pay day lending industry, even more than his crooked ally Patrick Murphy. Over the course of his shady career in Congress no other Floridian has taken as much from the sugar barons as Hastings ($283,000).

Wherever there's some tainted cash being weaved around for Congress, Hastings is at the front of the line. But that shouldn't surprise anyone. The man has a history-- a shocking history that should have disqualified him from elective office long ago. Eager to appoint Florida's first African-American federal judge, in 1979 Jimmy Carter found Hastings, who had been a Broward County circuit court judge for just over a year. In 1981 Hastings was charged with soliciting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for giving a couple of mobsters, convicted felons Frank and Thomas Romano, light sentences. His co-cosnpirator and close friend, William Borders, took the fall for Hastings in the criminal trial and Borders went to prison. But it was so obvious that Hastings was a crook that the Democratic-controlled House impeached him on bribery and perjury charges by an astounding 413-3 vote. The House impeachment managers included Peter Rodino and John Conyers. The Senate then found him guilty and removed him from the federal bench, only the sixth federal judge in the history to be removed from office by the Senate. Bill Clinton pardoned Hastings on his last day in office (January, 2001).
A special committee of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals began a new probe into the Hastings case. The resulting three-year investigation ended with the panel concluding that Hastings did indeed commit perjury, tamper with evidence, and conspire to gain financially by accepting bribes. The panel recommended further action to the U.S. Judicial Conference, which, in turn, informed the House of Representatives on March 17, 1987, that Judge Alcee Hastings should be impeached and removed from office.

On August 3, 1988, following an investigation by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, the House of Representatives voted 413 to 3 to adopt H. Res. 499, approving 17 articles of impeachment against Hastings, the greatest number of articles in any impeachment proceeding to date. Charges included conspiracy, bribery, perjury, falsifying documents, thwarting a criminal investigation, and undermining the public confidence "in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." The Senate received the articles on August 9, 1988.

...The Senate deliberated in closed session on October 19, 1989. The following day, the Senate voted on 11 of the 17 articles of impeachment, convicting Hastings, by the necessary two-thirds vote, on 8 articles (1-5, 7-9). On two articles (6, 17) the vote fell short of the required majority to convict. On article 11, the Senate voted 95 not guilty to 0 guilty. Having achieved the necessary majority vote to convict on 8 articles, the Senate’s president pro tempore (Robert C. Byrd) ordered Hastings removed from office. The Senate did not vote to disqualify him from holding future office.
Why bring this up? I just requested that the Public Integrity Section of the FBI initiate an investigation of Patrick Murphy's parents buying an endorsement from Hastings for their son. There's more to it than that and I'll be blogging about it more thoroughly once I'm sure I'm allowed to be the FBI. But right now, let me just include information that is already public. On March 26, 2015 Hastings endorsed Patrick Murphy for the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate. Less than a month later on April 24, 2015, Leslie Murphy, Patrick's mother, made the maximum legal contribution of $5,400 to Hastings. Within two weeks, on May 5, 2015, Thomas P. Murphy, Jr., Patrick's father, also made the maximum legal contribution of $5,400 to Hastings for Congress.

Clearly what happened here is that Patrick Murphy's parents entered into a scheme or artifice to defraud the people of Florida by purchasing an endorsement for their son and thereby denying the people of Florida the honest services of Representative Hastings. The purchased endorsement-- and another one I will discuss here at DWT soon-- had the effect of preventing Patrick Murphy's competitor for the Democratic Party nomination, Pam Keith, from receiving any assistance from the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee.

The federal anti-fraud statutes are extremely broad. They criminalize any "scheme or artifice to defraud." 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (emphasis added). The statute is not limited to efforts to defraud another of money or tangible property. Congress amended the anti-fraud statutes in 1988 to define the phrase "scheme or artifice to defraud" to include specifically any effort to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." 18 U.S.C. § 1346. The right to honest services includes the right to honest and impartial government.

By purchasing endorsements for their son, Patrick, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have used their wealth to unlawfully skew the political process and deny the people of Florida the honest services of Congressman Hastings. Accordingly, I requested that the Public Integrity Section and the FBI initiate an investigation of Thomas P. Murphy, Jr. and Leslie Murphy for multiple violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1346. And, by the way, Alcee isn't the only member of Congress named in my request to the FBI, because he wasn't the only member bribed by the Murphys. More on that soon.

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At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Gary Stein said...

money isn't everything. almost everything. we're trying novel ways at stein for congress to get the disinterested voters attention. check it out (with snappy music too) my friend. yours truly, Alcee Hastings opponent.


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