MIAMI – Rep. Alcee Hastings (search) sued his vanquished rival in the Democratic primary, asserting Wednesday that his opponent used his weekly newspaper to launch libelous attacks against him.
Hastings said in a lawsuit that Keith Clayborne (search), publisher of The Broward Times (search), a Fort Lauderdale-based newspaper, had accused him of bribery, conspiracy, disrespect for the public trust, and showing leniency toward drug traffickers while serving on the federal bench.
"It's one thing to talk about my record. It's another thing to tell a lie," Hastings said in an interview.
Clayborne did not immediately respond to a phone message left at his office and an e-mail.
Hastings defeated Clayborne with nearly 75 percent of the vote in the Aug. 31 primary.
The lawsuit, filed in Broward County, seeks more than $50,000 in damages. It includes excerpts from a column Clayborne wrote in the newspaper's May 28-June 3, 2004, edition that refer to charges of bribery made against Hastings two decades ago when he was a federal judge. Hastings was charged in an FBI bribery sting but acquitted by a federal jury in 1983.
Some judicial colleagues said Hastings fabricated his defense and their allegations led to his impeachment by the U.S. House in 1988. He was removed from the bench by the Senate the following year.
Hastings was elected to Congress in 1992 and along with two others became the first black Floridians in the House since the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Hastings is the only impeached federal official ever to be elected to Congress.