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Judicial Watch Seeks Restraining Order to Prevent Rep. Hastings from Firing 'Helsinki Commission' Staff Member

Judicial Watch Asks Court to Issue Restraining Order to Prevent Congressman Alcee Hastings from Firing 'Helsinki Commission' Staff Member


Contact: Jill Farrell, Judicial Watch, 202-646-5188


WASHINGTON, Mar. 29 /Standard Newswire/ -- Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the "Helsinki Commission"). Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on behalf of Commission counsel Mark Milosch, who is being improperly fired by Congressman Hastings in violation of federal law. In addition to the underlying lawsuit, Judicial Watch is also asking the court to temporarily restrain and/or preliminarily enjoin Hastings and the Commission from terminating Mr. Milosch's employment. The court papers also allege that at least three other staff members have been illegally fired by Hastings in recent weeks.


The nonpartisan Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, was established for the purpose of monitoring and encouraging compliance with the "Final Act of the Conference on Security Cooperation in Europe," an international accord signed by participating nations in 1975 in Helsinki, Finland. By law, "[a]ll decisions pertaining to the hiring, firing, and fixing of pay of Commission staff personnel shall be by a majority vote of the personnel and administration committee..."


After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi installed Congressman Alcee Hastings as Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, however, Hastings began efforts to terminate employees without properly seeking the approval of his colleagues. Speaker Pelosi's appointment of Hastings to Commission Chairman came after she denied him the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.


Hastings, who is one of only six federal judges in U.S. history to be removed from office through impeachment, also ignored the strenuous objections raised by Congressmen Christopher Smith and Senator Sam Brownback, both Commission members, who noted Mr. Milosch's "impressive academic and research credentials" in a February 2, 2007 letter to Hastings. "The firings are illegal and simply cannot stand," they wrote. Indeed, the general counsel for the Commission issued a legal opinion that any firing/hiring action that does not have a support of the majority of the Commission leadership would be contrary to law.


"Hastings is trying to eliminate conservative pro-lifers from the Commission staff and is running roughshod over the law in attempting to do so," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Given Congressman Hastings' history of corruption, it is not surprising that he would flout the law and treat the Helsinki Commission as his political plaything. We hope the courts hold him to account and protect our client's rights under the law."


Judicial Watch contends that, according to the law, Congressman Hastings lacks the unilateral authority to fire Mr. Milosch. Judicial Watch asks the court for injunctive and declaratory relief to prevent Mr. Milosch's termination.


First codified in 1976, the Helsinki Commission is composed of twenty-one members, including nine members of the House of Representatives, nine members of the Senate, and one member each of the Department of State, Department of Defense, and the Department of Commerce.


To read Judicial Watch's lawsuit against Alcee Hastings, please visit