Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) will not seek re-election for a fifth term, announcing his decision Wednesday under pressure from a “harassment” settlement concerning no sexual contact but a propensity for lewd jokes and insults.
“I just want to let everyone know, I absolutely did not engage in any improper conduct. I was investigated by the office of congressional ethics, and they found 6-0, there wasn’t enough effort,” Farenthold told his constituents in a Skype call Wednesday night where he made his intentions clear.
This month, it was revealed that Farenthold had settled a 2014 lawsuit by former communications director Lauren Greene, using around $84,000 of taxpayer money. She had alleged “gender discrimination,” “sexual harassment,” and “creating a hostile work environment.”
As Farenthold told his constituents, at the time, the Office of Congressional Ethics unanimously recommended ending the investigation into Greene’s claim, but her lawsuit continued and led to the out-of-court settlement.
According to Politico:
Greene said another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”
CNN, Thursday, added a male staffer who claims Farenthold’s jokes and insults caused him to “seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.” Michael Rekola, Greene’s replacement as communications director, claims what put him over the edge and forced him to resign was Farenthold telling him, a few weeks before his wedding, “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.”
Rekola reportedly took his ‘harassment’ claims to the House Ethics Committee.
A reliable conservative, Farenthold has been a steadfast supporter of President Donald Trump and much of his agenda. Over the years, however, he has built a reputation for eccentric behavior and quixotic comments.