With Democrats now in charge of the U.S. House, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tapped U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., to return as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission.
Hastings had been serving as vice chairman of the commission and he weighed in on his promotion on Wednesday.
“For more than four decades, the Helsinki Commission has championed human rights and democracy across North America, Europe, and Central Asia,” Hastings said. “While we have worked to keep these concerns on the U.S. agenda, much remains to be accomplished. Rogue actors are challenging the integrity of elections at home and abroad; Russia’s internal repression threatens its citizens while its external aggression imperils its neighbors; and members of vulnerable communities are targets of bigotry, discrimination, and violence. All of these challenges undermine comprehensive security in the region and place our societies at risk.
“I’m honored to once again chair the Helsinki Commission, and look forward to continuing the bipartisan, bicameral cooperation that is vital to promoting human rights, military security, and economic cooperation in the 57 countries that make up the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Hastings added.
Named to the Helinski Commission in 2001, Hastings took over as chairman back in 2007 when Democrats controlled the House. The Florida Democrat is the only American to serve as president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), and was a special representative on Mediterranean Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Convicted and impeachment by Congress for accepting a bribe–becoming only the sixth federal judge in American history to be removed from the bench by Congress–Hastings bounced back to win a congressional seat in 1992. Since then, Hastings has easily defended his seat in a secure Democratic district. Hastings has handily kept his seat despite the Treasury Department being forced to pay out $220,000 to settle with a former staffer who accused the congressman of sexual harassment and being ranked by Judicial Watch as the number one member of Congress when it came to nepotism.
Hastings is currently the dean of the Florida delegation and serves as the vice chairman of the powerful U.S. House Rules Committee.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.