Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had already announced his plan not to seek re-election after accusations of “sexual harassment,” went further and resigned Friday, effective immediately.
“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,” Politico quoted in a statement from the congressman’s office.
There were no accompanying new revelations about the 2014 sexual harassment lawsuit settlement he made with former staffers. The suit contained no allegations of inappropriate sexual contact and is entirely concerned with jokes and insults Farenthold allegedly made.
Michael Rekola, a former male staffer, claimed on CNN that Farenthold’s lewd jokes were serious enough for him to go to the House Ethics Committee and forced him to “seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.”
“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 via Skype call when he decided not to run again in December.
At that time, Farenthold was under heavy pressure after it was revealed he 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.” This was at the rough peak of public exposure for the “#MeToo” movement affecting powerful men in several industries and branches of government.
What exactly led Farenthold to expedite his departure is not clear.
Farenthold has generally voted as a conservative and been broadly supportive of President Donald Trump. He is alleged in the sexual harassment lawsuit and, on the basis of his sometimes eccentric behavior – such as challenging fellow Republicans to duel him – to have problems with alcohol.