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 Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans Koch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Democrats are geared up for primary runoff D-Day in Texas MORE on Thursday became the first Texas Republican lawmaker to suggest GOP Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonUnending Pruitt controversies leave Republicans frustrated Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data Lawmakers roll out bill to protect children from online data collection 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 ConawayHillicon Valley: Deal reached on ZTE, but lawmakers look to block it | New encryption bill | Dems push Ryan for net neutrality vote | Google vows it won't use AI for weapons Lawmakers scrutinize Google, Twitter's relationship with Chinese phone makers Farmland is being consumed by expanding urban areas 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 RyanTrump vows to stand with House GOP '1,000 percent' on immigration Heckler yells ‘Mr. President, f--- you’ as Trump arrives at Capitol Hoyer: GOP centrists 'sold out' Dreamers MORE (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiMadeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration Pelosi: GOP is 'complicit' in separating families Conservative groups outline new ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (D-Calif.) called on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersPortland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan 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 JordanRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Republican wants to know why Rosenstein delayed release of FBI agent texts Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI 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.”