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US Rep. Alcee Hastings, Florida's Longest-Serving Congressman, Dies At 84

Alcee Hastings speaking in front of microphones
Patrick Semansky/AP
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., speaks during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 17, 2019. Hastings, the longtime Congressman from Florida has died after a two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. The Palm Beach County Democrat died Tuesday, April 6, 2021, according to his chief of staff, Lale M. Morrison.

Hastings died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation at the time of his death, getting re-elected in 2020 with nearly 79% of the vote.

Democrat Alcee Hastings, who represented parts of South Florida in the U.S. House for nearly three decades, died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Hastings was elected to the House in 1992, after he was impeached and removed from office as a federal judge in 1989 following a probe into allegations related to bribery and perjury. But Hastings was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation at the time of his death, getting re-elected in 2020 with nearly 79% of the vote.

Democrats issued statements Tuesday praising Hastings, with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., saying he was “heartbroken at the passing of my dear friend.”

"I had the honor of working side by side with Alcee for more than a decade, seeing first-hand his passion and drive for standing up to injustice and fighting for our community,” said Deutch, whose district, like Hastings’ district, includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. “Alcee devoted his career to advancing civil rights for all Americans and human rights around the world. His leadership on racial justice issues brought together everyone committed to a more just and equitable society.”

State Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, described Hastings as a “mentor, a friend and a fraternity brother.”

“Our political dean for South Florida for the past three decades, Congressman Hastings served our community, our state and our nation, and we are all the better for his dedicated commitment to public service, and his impact on countless lives,” Thurston said in a statement. “His legacy will forever live on and live with us. Rest in peace, my brother.”

Hastings’ death was reported Tuesday by numerous media organizations in Florida and Washington. Hastings announced in January 2019 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“My doctors have stated that the advancement in the treatment of cancer is evolutionary and the success rates continue to climb resulting in a dramatic decrease in the number of cancer-related deaths,” Hastings said in a statement at the time. “I have been convinced that this is a battle worth fighting, and my life is defined by fighting battles worth fighting.”

Hastings’ 1992 election was a landmark event as he and two other Black Democrats — Corrine Brown and Carrie Meek — were elected to Congress.

He received praise Tuesday for his work on civil-rights issues. Deutch also said Hastings “knew the importance of bringing together the Black and Jewish communities to achieve shared goals. He was a staunch supporter of the US-Israel relationship and valued the important bilateral partnership.”

“The Jewish community has lost one of their loudest voices and defenders. RIP,” tweeted Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and a former Democratic state House member from Broward County.

A native of Altamonte Springs, Hastings graduated from Fisk University and received a law degree from Florida A&M University, according to his U.S. House webpage.

He was appointed as a federal judge in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter but was indicted in 1981 by a grand jury after an investigation into allegations that he solicited a bribe for reducing sentences of two felons, according to a U.S. Senate summary of his impeachment. Hastings was acquitted of criminal charges, but the House later impeached him, and the Senate removed him from office.

Jim Saunders is the Executive Editor of The News Service Of Florida.
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