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Texas lawmaker says GOP colleague should resign over lewd photo

Texas lawmaker says GOP colleague should resign over lewd photo
© Greg Nash

Rep. John CarterJohn Rice CarterThe Hill's 12:30 Report Texas lawmaker says GOP colleague should resign over lewd photo Reid’s promise to Ryan prompts skepticism from Republicans MORE on Thursday became the first Texas Republican lawmaker to suggest GOP Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonLawmakers unveil landmark overhaul of sexual harassment policies GOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Week ahead: House GOP looks to revamp Energy Department MORE, the dean of the Texas delegation, should immediately resign from Congress after a nude photograph of Barton was posted online.

“I think it would be wise” if Barton resigned, Carter said in a brief interview with The Hill.

Later Thursday night, a second Texas GOP lawmaker, former Ethics Committee Chairman Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach House Intel postpones Bannon interview in dispute over questioning Despite subpoena, Bannon won’t appear before House Intelligence Committee: reports MORE, said Barton needs to go. Conaway spokeswoman Emily Hytha told The Hill that Conaway, now the Agriculture Committee chairman, believes that Barton should resign. 

At a Texas delegation meeting earlier in the day, a handful of other Republicans also urged Barton to quit now, but those lawmakers have not yet publicly called for his ouster. 

Barton, a former Energy Committee chairman and the longest-serving member of the Texas delegation, said Thursday he would not seek reelection in 2018, but rejected calls from Republicans back home to immediately quit Congress.

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His announcement came a day after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted sexually suggestive Facebook messages Barton wrote to a female constituent while he was married to his second wife. In one message, he asked the woman whether she was “wearing a tank top only ... and no panties.”

“I’ve announced I’m not running, but I’m going to fill out my term,” Barton told The Hill. “I’m not going to resign.”

Asked whether more sexually explicit photos or messages from him could emerge, Barton replied: “Not that I know of. How could there be more?”

A powerful Appropriations subcommittee chairman who has served with Barton since 2003, Carter said he had “visited” with his Texas colleague this week to discuss the matter.

“Right now, my position is Mr. Barton needs to take care of Mr. Barton’s business. He screwed up; he’s got to take care of it,” said Carter, who added that he had not yet read about Barton's Facebook messages.

The developments came on a day both House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Rep. Gutiérrez: 'Complete betrayal' if Pelosi backs budget caps deal without DACA Senate leaders say they're zeroing in on two-year budget deal MORE (D-Calif.) called on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersHouse passes landmark bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy on Capitol Hill Wynn Resorts stock price plummets after sexual misconduct report CNN: Judges rarely face discipline for sexual harassment complaints MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member in Congress, to resign after a number of former female aides came forward alleging sexual harassment.

Like Barton, Conyers also said he won’t run for reelection in 2018 but has defied calls for him to resign. Ryan said he is continuing to speak with Barton but did not comment on whether he should resign or be reprimanded for the behavior.

Barton, 68, is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Leaders of that group told The Hill he spoke to the group Monday night, addressed the news reports, and asked for his colleagues forgiveness.

So far, Freedom Caucus leadership has not asked Barton to resign from the group.

“Joe gave a heartfelt remarks to the group, and what happens going forward is between Joe and his constituents,” Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSenate leaders say they're zeroing in on two-year budget deal GOP to play hardball with Dems on funding bill GOP lawmakers say Trump would make mistake in firing Rosenstein MORE (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told The Hill.

Asked whether Barton’s conduct reflects Freedom Caucus values, Jordan replied: “Look, Joe’s a friend, he gave remarks to us and that’s what we know right now. He said what needed to be said, and it was heartfelt.”