Lawmakers remember Rep. Alcee Hastings at Capitol service

Hastings became a federal judge in 1979, after making a name for himself as a civil rights advocate and a short stint on the state bench. His lifetime appointment to the judiciary was cut short in 1989, when Congress impeached him over bribery charges stemming from a mob trial over which he presided. Hastings had actually won the criminal case against him in 1983 and was acquitted of all charges. But that didn’t stop the Democrat-controlled House from impeaching him six years later on a 413-3 vote, and then a panel of the Senate voting to convict him and remove him from the judiciary — but not bar him from running for political office.

His last financial disclosure forms showed he still owed his lawyers millions, including between $500,000 and $1 million to Patricia Williams, who became his girlfriend, then his legal client during her disbarment proceedings, then his staffer, and then third wife.

Despite those bad optics, and news that the Treasury Department paid $220,000 in 2014 to settle a sexual harassment claim by another former staffer against him, Hastings never faced a serious challenge after first getting elected to Congress in 1992 — just three years after the same chamber impeached him.

That 1992 campaign was his ninth attempt to win elected office, and the first successful one. But it wasn’t easy. In the primary, Hastings faced Rep. Lois Frankel, then a state House member, among a five-candidate field. Frankel finished first in the first round, winning 35 percent to Hastings’ 28 percent. The two went on to a runoff, which turned nasty, with each candidate viciously attacking the other.

Frankel, who won a neighboring congressional seat in 2012, had only kind words to say on Wednesday about her former adversary turned colleague and friend.

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