Rep. Blake Farenthold settled a sexual harassment allegation with his former aide in 2014, a new report by Politico alleges.
Farenthold was accused by his former communications director of frequently drinking in excess and flirting with her. Politico reported that one of his aides told her that the lawmaker had sexual fantasies about her. She was later fired from her position and a settlement between the two parties was reached. However, its now been reported that the settlement was handled using a taxpayer dollars.
Farenthold represents the 27th Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, a seat he’s held since 2010.
Here’s what you need to know about Farenthold and the allegations:
1. Greene Accused a Farenthold Aide of Telling Her the Lawmaker Had ‘Sexual Fantasies’ About Her
The Politico report described in detail the sexual harassment claim brought forth by Farenthold’s former communications director, Lauren Greene. She filed a lawsuit against Farenthold in 2014 for allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, Rachael Blade of Politico reported.
Greene worked for Farenthold’s office for 18 months. Learn more about Greene by clicking below.
In the lawsuit, Greene claims that a male aide of Farentholds told her that the lawmaker had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. She said that in February 2014, Greene mentioned to her that he was separated from his wife and he hadn’t “had sex with her in years.”
The lawsuit also accused Farenthold of “regularly” drinking to excess, with several staffers joking that they had to be on “red head patrol” to keep him out of trouble because of his flirtatious ways.
Greene said she complained to Farenthold, and she was fired. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but it was dropped after reaching a settlement out of court. The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Greene’s allegations against Farenthold and concluded there was no reason to believe that he “sexually harassed or discriminated against (Greene).”
Greene later told the Houston Chronicle that he was surprised at the lawsuit.
“I didn’t imagine us having any problems in the office,” he told the newspaper. “And the things she alleges are just so far out in left field. I’m just stunned.”
2. Reports Say the Settlement Totaled $84,000
The lawsuit was mentioned in a closed-door meeting December 1 with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. House Administration Committee Chairman Greg Harper (R-Miss.) reportedly told his colleagues that there was only one lawmaker’s office in the past five years that used a taxpayer account to settle a sexual harassment complaint. Politico reported the suit was the one Greene filed against Farenthold, which totaled $84,000.
Farenthold’s office released a statement to Politico prior to the article being published. He said that he supported being more transparent with sexual allegation claims against members of Congress and didn’t comment on the lawsuit.
“While I 100 percent support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question,” the statement said.
While that was the recent statement, an alderman shared another that was intended to be released upon the conclusion of the settlement. The statement said that the parties involved agreed to a solution that was proposed by a mediator. Read that statement, obtained by Politico, below:
After it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers — the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator. After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator.
The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.
The agreement was said to have included a confidentiality agreement which prevented all parties from discussing the case.
3. Farenthold Has Been Re-Elected to the House Seat 3 Times
Farenthold has represented Texas’ 27th Congressional District in the House of Representatives since 2010. His reported base salary, according to Ballotpedia, is $174,000. During his big for the House seat in 2010, Farenthold’s campaign raised $616,618 to defeat Democratic incumbent Solomon P. Ortiz. Ortiz’s campaign nearly doubled the contribution amounts to Farenthold, data from Open Secrets showed. Farenthold received 48 percent of the vote to Ortiz’s 47 percent.
During his 2012 re-election bid, his campaign raised $1.1 million and he handidly defeated Democrat Rose Meza Harrison (56.8 percent to 39.2 percent).
Farenthold was up for re-election again in 2014, and he won by much more. He defeated Democrat Wesley Reed and Libertarian Roxanne Simonson, receiving 63.8 percent of the total vote.
Most recently, he was victorious in a 2016 re-election against Democrat Raul Barrera, grabbing 61.7 percent of the vote to Barrera’s 38.3 percent. He will be up for re-election in 2018.
4. Farenthold Said He’d Challenge Female Senators to a Duel During the Healthcare Debate
Farenthold graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film. He then graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Prior to running for the House seat, Farenthold served as a conservative radio show host. Before that, he was a lawyer and owned a computer consulting firm.
Earlier this year amid the healthcare debate, Farenthold stirred up controversy for a comment he made during a radio interview. He appeared to reference an old-fashioned duel, saying he would settle the debate “Aaron Burr-style.” Burr notably was involved in a duel in 1804 where he killed Alexander Hamilton.
“Listen, the fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me,” he said to Bob Jones on Keys 1440 AM in Texas. “Some of the people that are opposed to this — there are some female senators from the Northeast — if it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”
Farenthold was referencing Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. They all said that they couldn’t support the healthcare plan brought forth by Senate Majority Leader Mith McConnell.
Collins was caught on a hot mic after the comments saying that Farenthold was “so unattractive it’s unbelievable.” She later apologized for saying so.
Following the interview, Farenthold said he was clearly being “tongue-in-cheek,” CNN reported.
“Like the president, I am sick and tired of the left-wing biased media trying to make something out of nothing,” the statement said. “This was clearly tongue in cheek. That being said, I’m extremely frustrated with Senate Republicans who are breaking their promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
5. A Photo Taken at a Costume Party Shows Farenthold Wearing Duck Pajamas Next to a Lingerie Model
In her comments regarding Farenthold, Collins was making reference to a photo that had been circulating for a while. It showed Farenthold at a 2009 costume party/fundraiser wearing duck-print pajamas. Before he left, a photographer took a photo of him posing alongside a lingerie-clad waitress.
“A week doesn’t go by it doesn’t show up on Twitter,” Farenthold told the Houston Chronicle.
The photo was used on a magazine cover, TV ads and billboards during his campaigns for the House seat.