Pelosi and Hast­ings

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Af­ter spend­ing the midterm elec­tion cam­paign de­cry­ing “the Repub­li­can cul­ture of cor­rup­tion [that] has per­vaded Congress,” pre­sump­tive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose the loom­ing race for House ma­jor­ity leader as the first op­por­tu­nity to wield her con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence within the Demo­cratic cau­cus. What a sur­prise: Mrs. Pelosi, the quin­tes­sen­tial far-left San Fran­cisco Demo­crat, em­braced the can­di­dacy of Penn­syl­va­nia Rep. John Murtha. He’s that old “unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor” from the 1980 Ab­scam scan­dal. Mrs. Pelosi now seems poised to oust fel­low Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat Jane Har­man from the party’s top post on the House Intelligence Com­mit­tee in fa­vor of Florida Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings, whom, as a sit­ting fed­eral judge in 1988, Mrs. Pelosi joined 412 House col­leagues in vot­ing to im­peach.

Af­ter then-U.S. Dis­trict Judge Hast­ings was ac­quit­ted in 1983 in a crim­i­nal trial in­volv­ing a $150,000 bribery scheme, con­spir­acy and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, a spe­cial in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee of the fed­eral ju­di­ciary con­cluded that Judge Hast­ings had lied and fab­ri­cated ev­i­dence to win ac­quit­tal. The panel rec­om­mended im­peach­ment.

In 1988 Rep. John Cony­ers Jr., the Demo­crat from Michi­gan who will be­come chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee in Jan­uary, presided over the Hast­ings im­peach­ment in­quiry as chair­man of the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Sub­com­mit­tee. Ac­cord­ing to Con­gres­sional Quar­terly, Mr. Cony­ers later told col­leagues that he had care­fully searched for any hints of racism in the case against Mr. Hast­ings, who, like Mr. Cony­ers, is black. But Mr. Cony­ers said he could not find any. In­ter­est­ingly, Mr. Hast­ings in­sisted at a meet­ing this sum­mer with the edi­to­rial board of The Wash­ing­ton Times that the ju­di­cial in­quiry into his con­duct was teem­ing with racism, in­clud­ing the use of a nasty racial ep­i­thet by one of the white panel mem­bers in an el­e­va­tor oc­cu­pied by Mr. Hast­ings and his mother. Mr. Hast­ings ac­knowl­edged that he had never both­ered to men­tion the de­tails of the racist cam­paign against him to Mr. Cony­ers, who, re­mem­ber, later said he had searched in vain for such racist mo­tives. It is clear that a quar­ter cen­tury af­ter the bribery scheme un­folded, Mr. Hast­ings is now ac­tively play­ing the race card. This is truly rep­re­hen­si­ble.

Ar­guably pos­sess­ing the most cor­rupt ($150,000 in 1981 is worth $335,000 in to­day’s pur­chas­ing power) and dis­rep­utable back­ground of any mem­ber of Congress to­day, Mr. Hast­ings was con­victed in 1989 by the Demo­cratic-con­trolled Se­nate for con­spir­acy to ac­cept a bribe and for mak­ing nu­mer­ous false state­ments at his 1983 crim­i­nal trial. The Se­nate con­vic­tions booted him from the fed­eral bench. It is bad enough that the good folks of Florida have cho­sen to send an im­peached judge to Congress. It is be­yond the pale that Speaker-to-be Pelosi is now con­sid­er­ing nam­ing such a politi­cian to be the chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Intelligence. “Cul­ture of cor­rup­tion.” Democrats ought to face the mir­ror.

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