Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie Wednesday spoke for the first time about the legal issues that have plagued her for the last year and a half. In an exclusive interview with News-5, Hastie described the ordeal, its impact on her family and friends, and if she wishes she had never pursued public office.
Hastie became very emotional when discussing a plea deal that was offered by prosecutors.
“I have two daughters and what kind of example would their mother be if she pled guilty to something she didn’t do,” a tearful Hastie said. “So that’s what it came down to, to me.”
Last month, Hastie was acquitted on 16 felony corruption counts, and last week prosecutors announced they would not seek to retry her husband John and her on tax evasion charges. A jury deadlocked on those charges in May
“I can’t even explain it,” said Hastie about being the target of an FBI investigation. “It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been through. It really is. It’s the scariest thing. There’s not a person on this earth I’d wish this on.”
Hastie was charged with intimidating and extorting employees and contract workers – some of whom wore wires and secretly recorded her. She was also accused of paying consultants working on her plan to merge the license and revenue offices out of improper funds.
“I definitely made mistakes and I look back now and try to learn from those mistakes,” said Hastie.
“There was never anything criminal though. There was never missing money anything like that. I just paid it out of the wrong account.”
Despite the verdicts in court, the Hasties say it far from a true victory. Their defense has cost $150,000.
“Well we are in debt now because it was expensive,” said Hastie. “The stress, we’re still living!”
Hastie delivered on her 2008 campaign promise to bring ten minute tags to the license office. She was re-elected unopposed in 2012 and last year was elected unopposed as revenue commissioner, a job she’ll begin in October.
But Hastie says if she had to do it all again, she’d avoid being a public servant.
“If you could go back to the beginning, when I decided to run for this office, and I could know this was lying ahead, I never would have run for this office. And that’s what scares me about having good people to run – nit that we don’t have great elected officials – we do, but in the future people are going to look back and if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”
The Hasties say they’ve been overwhelmed by the public’s support – the silver lining in the dark cloud that’s hung over them for the last year and a half.
“As long as you believe in the Lord and have good friends praying for you, you can come through anything,” said John Hastie. “And both of us have a lot of friends.”
“My faith has gotten stronger, my relationship with my husband and my family has, and my friends too,” added Kim Hastie.
Kim Hastie was found guilty in federal court last month of a misdemeanor for leaking an e-mail list to a political campaign. She’ll be sentenced next month and faces a fine of up to five thousand dollars.