WASHINGTON ― House lawmakers recognized themselves this week for passing legislation that cracks down on sexual harassers in Congress. But they have an supposed harasser in their midst who is looking to quietly slip by: Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
Farenthold spent $84, 000 in taxpayer money to stay a sex harassment lawsuit with a former female aide three years back. Details of this settlement weren’ t public until early Dec 2017, at which point the particular congressman said he would retire in late 2018 and would immediately repay the money to the Treasury Division. He never sent the check out.
By late January, his office mentioned he was “ waiting to see what changes the home makes to the Congressional Accountability Work before repaying the funds. ” On Tuesday, the House passed a bill to strengthen that law, which supplies workplace protections in Capitol Slope offices. But now his workplace says he’ s waiting to find out if the Senate passes the expenses, if the president signs it, and when this theoretical new law may inspire him to pay up.
“ He is waiting on the advice associated with counsel to see what final expenses is enacted, ” Bob Haueter, Farenthold’ s chief of personnel, told HuffPost on Wednesday. “ Once the final bill is done as well as the law is changed and is comprehensive and he can see that, he will create a determination of how he proceeds. ”
By all appearances, this is a situation of a GOP congressman ridiculously shifting the goalposts to avoid paying back thousands of dollars before he leaves in late the year. The House bill has no having on Farenthold’ s situation ― it is not retroactive ― and that can compare with to prevent him from cutting the today.
He’ s not hard on with money, either. The guy may be worth huge amount of money .
HuffPost asked in case Farenthold would repay the $84, 000 after he leaves workplace, in the event the president does not sign the law this year relating to Congress’ sex harassment policies.
“ I guess we’ ll have to look at that, how this occurs, ” said Haueter. “ At this point in time, right now, he’ h expecting Congress to act. ”
It’ s a wonder that Farenthold is still in Congress at all. Several of his colleagues have lately resigned in disgrace amid accusations of sexual misconduct. At a time once the #MeToo movement is driving effective, high-profile sexual harassers out of their own jobs, it’ s hard to envision someone in the private sector not really being punished for the kind of habits Farenthold has been accused of.
Their former spokeswoman Lauren Greene said in legal files that Farenthold informed another aide that Greene can “ show her nipples anytime she wanted to” and that he previously “ sexual fantasies” and “ wet dreams” about her. She describes the congressman as frequently being drunk and flirtatious at your workplace, complaining of a sexless marriage plus telling her a story about a feminine lobbyist propositioning him for “ a threesome. ”
Two various other Farenthold aides complained in 2016 of a toxic work environment. One described staffers talking about man lobbyists sending them pictures of the genitals and other staffers making obscene comments “ about female reporters’ breast size. ”
“ I’ ve performed nothing wrong , ” Farenthold has said. He points in order to the 2015 finding with the independent Office of Congressional Integrity that there was “ not significant reason” to believe he had violated Home rules. But the House Integrity Committee disagreed and began its own analysis in September 2015. The committee has been looking into their behavior ever since, beset by gaps because key witnesses wouldn’ capital t come forward.
That changed keep away from 2017, when Greene agreed to work. The ethics committee announced a new investigative subcommittee to look into regardless of whether Farenthold sexually harassed other associates of his staff, used formal money for campaign purposes, plus lied or omitted details within previous testimony to the committee. It’ s not clear how long this analysis will take or whether it will be performed before Farenthold retires.
In the meantime, His party leaders appear fine with Farenthold keeping his job ― great taxpayer-funded salary ― for the rest of the entire year. That leaves GOP lawmakers within the awkward position of having to defend Farenthold through the midterm elections. It’ ersus already creating problems for their colleagues trying to tout their newly found zero-tolerance policy for sexual nuisance on Capitol Hill.
“ Nowadays is a great day for America, ” Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss. ) beamed at a Tuesday press occasion after the House passed his bill to require lawmakers to individually pay for any sexual harassment pay outs. “ This is the greatest place In my opinion that anybody could ever function, whether you’ re a member or even a staffer…. We want to ensure that that defense is here for everybody. ”
Nearly all from the reporters’ questions were about Farenthold.
“ The legislation that we transferred, unfortunately, is not retroactive, ” Harper said. “ It’ s as much as each individual member that might have been in that will situation to determine whether they will or even won’ t [repay the government]. ”
Asked if it sat right along with him that a Republican colleague hadn’ t paid back sexual harassment negotiation money, Harper said just, “ He said he would definitely pay it back. When will he do this? I don’ t know. ”
Blake Farenthold has to be, I think, cajoled, embarrassed, forced by all of us to pay the money back again. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif. )
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif. ), a leading tone of voice in the push to crack upon sexual harassment on Capitol Slope, said part of the reason that Farenthold is seemingly getting away along with bad behavior is that the House Integrity Committee needs to be reformed, too.
“ It’ s not a place to send difficult, thorny member problems, ” she said.
But an additional problem is that House Speaker John Ryan (R-Wis. ) hasn’ capital t demanded that Farenthold repay the particular $84, 000 immediately or required him to resign.
“ They have got the ability to force it, ” Speier said of GOP leadership. “ Blake Farenthold has to be, I think, cajoled, embarrassed, pressured by all of us to pay for the money back. We had a situation to the Democratic side, we pressured users to resign, and they did. ”
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong stated the speaker has pressed Farenthold to repay the money.
“ Representative. Farenthold told the speaker he’d be paying the settlement back again, and we have since repeatedly mentioned he should pay it back, ” Strong said.
Chalk it up in order to Ryan not being firm sufficient with a member of his caucus or Farenthold simply not caring. Whatever the reason for your inaction, some lawmakers state Farenthold’ s behavior is eroding the particular dignity of the House itself.
“ This undermines the integrity of our organization, ” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md. ). “ Why should people be paying for anyone’ s sex-related misconduct? He said he would pay back it at the end of the week keep away from? That’ s a hell of the long week. ”