Texas GOP congressman resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Texas Republican Blake Farenthold unexpectedly resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives Friday amid charges he made inappropriate comments about a former staffer, tolerated a hostile work environment and had used tax payer dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2015.

His resignation effective immediately, Farenthold video-recorded resignation speech in which he outlined his accomplishments since arriving in Washington in 2011.

Making no mention of charges which have gripped his office for three years, the four-term Corpus Christie Republican declared it was “time to move along.”

“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. Leaving my service in the House, I’m able to look back at the entirety of my career in public office and say that it was well worthwhile,” Farenthold said in his resignation speech.

Farenthold also sent a letter to Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott announcing his departure from the House.

Farenthold’s hasty exit from Congress on Friday began four years ago when former staffer, Lauren Greene, sued over sexual harassment, gender discrimination and alleged retaliation based on her complaints.

After complaining to a fellow staffer, Greene claimed Farenthold retaliated through her dismissal, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court. Greene later dropped her litigation after she was paid a settlement of $84,000.

Despite the settlement, Farenthold consistently maintained Lauren Greene had been dismissed for poor work performance.

In early December 2017, the Congressional Office of Compliance, which manages dispute resolution, education and enforcement for congressional members, revealed it had discharged the $84,000 to settle Greene’s claim. The revelation inspired a renewed House Ethics Committee probe in December 2017.

Shortly thereafter, Farenthold apologize for a lack of professionalism among staff and his own personal shortcomings, and announced he would not seek reelection in 2018.

Farenthold had vowed to re-pay the government for the settlement cost, but has yet to follow through.

It is unclear whether a special election will be held to fill Farenthold’s vacant seat.

 

[Reuters] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy Erin Schaff/UPI]

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