Texas Congressman Joe Barton has confirmed that he sent sext messages on Facebook to a well-known Tea Party activist in the state. On November 28, the Fort-Worth Star Telegram published a report alleging that Barton had sent sexual messages to his constituent Kelly Canon. The report came a week after he apologized for sending a nude photo to a different woman. The messages were sent between 2012 and 2013 while Barton was married to his second wife, Terri. One message saw Barton ask Canon if she was “wearing a tank top only… and no panties?” that was quickly followed with “answer me miss evasive.” Another message from Barton said, “men are men… and u r definitely a sexy woman.” Canon told him that “all the good ones are married” to which Barton said, “I don’t know about good… but I am married … I am not thinking good thoughts at this moment … blush.” Barton confirmed to the Star Telegram that the messages were real, saying, “I will affirm I did have the exchange, but nothing more.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Canon’s Opponent for City Council in 2016 Said He Would Much Rather Talk to a Parrot Than Her
Canon’s run for Arlington City Council in 2016 was covered by the Dallas Morning News. Canon was challenging “hothead” Charlie Parker for the seat, according to the Morning News. In response to a letter Canon had sent him, Parker responded, “I am convinced you are the most negative person that I have ever encountered. I have absolutely no respect for the Kelly Canon’s [sic] of the world. I would much rather talk to a parrot.”
Shortly afterwards, Canon announced her candidacy for Parker’s seat in 2016 via Twitter. Ulitmately her bid failed. An advocacy website for Canon wrote that the Tea Party activist was “firm, principled, courteous, and unlike her opponent, she will not be described by the Dallas Morning News as ‘…the rudest city council member in North Texas, based on samples of his emails to constituents.’ Kelly will listen to your concerns, not laugh in your face.”
2. Canon’s Major Political Goal Was to Abolish Red Light Cameras in Texas
Canon’s goal of abolishing red light traffic cameras in Texas earned her national attention as Fox News covered her struggle. Canon told the network that she believed a liberal PAC had paid protesters $18 to counteract her group’s demonstrations. Canon said, “The marketing firm is trying to create an illusion of local support for the camera. You basically have a camera company trying to save their monetary hide. They are creating fake groups that they hide behind.”
The Fox News report covers how Canon set up a PAC, Citizens For a Better Arlington, with her friend Faith Bussey. Prior to coming forward with the messages, Canon told the Star Telegram, “I did two days of soul searching. I got this feeling his ego was getting in the way.”
3. Canon Campaigned for Donald Trump
According to posts on her Facebook page, Canon actively campaigned for Donald Trump. Canon writes in her bio on Facebook, “I’m an 8th generation Texan and graduate of Texas A&M University (’82) with a degree in Architecture. Canon is a native of Lake Jackson, Texas, and now lives in Arlington. On her website, Canon says that she attended Brazoswood High School. For 20 years, Canon has been employed by Facilities Space Planner in Arlington.
Canon told the Washington Post that “97 percent” of the messages she exchanged with Barton were about Texas A&M football but “whenever he would take the conversation south, as it were, I would not engage him in further discussion. I would shut it down.” Canon also told the Post that “It killed” her to release the messages but said that “the Democrats are going to have a feeding frenzy” in the 2018 election.
4. Barton Says He Apologized to Canon; While Canon Says She Never Received an Apology
On November 29, Canon told the Washington Post that Rep. Barton never apologized for sending her obscene messages. Though speaking to the Star Telegram, a consultant said that Barton did apologize for sending the messages.
Canon said in her interview with the Star Telegram, “He took it a step far on rare occasions. He was very fascinated with my attire, to the point of being inappropriate.”
5. Calls for Barton to Resign Continue to Grow
Shortly after the Star Telegram published the revelations about Barton’s sext messages, the newspaper published an editorial titled, “Hey Joe, It’s Time to Go.” The piece concludes with the line, “Joe Barton has acknowledged the two incidents we know about. He’s said he’s sorry he sent the nude photo. Now he needs to say good-bye.”
While Canon told the Star Telegram, “[Barton] actually thinks he can win. I thought maybe if I come forward maybe others will come forward too… Someone has to step up. This is a pattern.” The same article notes that Tarrant County Republican Chairman Tim O’Hare has called for Barton to resign. Barton has represented Texas’ 6th Congressional District since 1985.