Texas lawmaker in sex settlement resigns

Texas lawmaker in sex settlement resigns

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment case with his former communications director, abruptly resigned from Congress on Friday afternoon.

In December, Farenthold, who represented the 27th District of Texas, said that he would not run for re-election amid scrutiny over the payment and accusations from other aides that he set the tone for a hostile work environment in his office.

At the time, he was one of several lawmakers to announce his eventual departure from Congress after being accused of sexual harassment and discrimination.

“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” Farenthold said in a statement Friday.

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It was known for several years that Farenthold, already notorious for a heavily circulated photograph of him in duck pajamas, had been accused of sexual harassment by Lauren Greene, his former communications director. She sued him in 2014, claiming that he had illegally fired her after she complained about mistreatment.

But in December, the extent of Farenthold’s settlement was revealed when Congress’ Office of Compliance released details of six settlements that it had paid out since 2013 as part of a review of discrimination and sexual harassment in congressional offices. His case was the only settlement involving sexual harassment since 2013.

A decision in 2015 by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent, nonpartisan board, cleared him of wrongdoing, and he promised to repay the settlement. A spokeswoman for Farenthold did not respond to questions about whether he had fulfilled that promise or whether he would do so after resigning. But fellow Republicans suggested that he had not.

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