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Rep. Farenthold delays repaying taxpayers for $84K harassment settlement

Rep. Farenthold delays repaying taxpayers for $84K harassment settlement
© Greg Nash

Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFarenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him House Ethics calls on Farenthold to pay back K taxpayer-funded harassment settlement Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (R-Texas) has not yet reimbursed taxpayers for an $84,000 settlement he reached with a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment, despite pledging last month that he would take out a personal loan to pay the cost.

Farenthold spokeswoman Stacey Daniels confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday that at the advice of counsel, Farenthold is waiting to see what changes Congress will make to its sexual harassment prevention policies before paying back the cost of the settlement.

The Corpus Christi representative had an estimated net worth of over $5,000,000 in 2015, according to Open Secrets.

CNN first reported that Farenthold has delayed reimbursing taxpayers for the settlement.

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Farenthold in early December initially told a local Texas TV station that he would take out a personal loan to repay the settlement and present a check to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFreedomWorks backs Jim Jordan for House Speaker House, Senate GOP compete for cash Some doubt McCarthy or Scalise will ever lead House GOP MORE (R-Wis.) that week. 

Farenthold announced that he would not seek reelection, but will serve out the remainder of his term.

In the meantime, Farenthold is under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee for the sexual harassment allegation from the former staffer who received the $84,000 settlement. 

Ryan supports Farenthold’s pledge to reimburse taxpayers for the settlement. 

“Rep. Farenthold told the speaker he would be paying the settlement back and the speaker believes this is still the appropriate course of action,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The Ethics Committee is also reviewing allegations that Farenthold made "inappropriate statements" to his staff, whether he required congressional staff to perform campaign work and whether he made false statements to the panel. 

The New York Times and CNN both published reports in recent weeks describing how Farenthold allegedly made sexually graphic jokes and bullied staffers.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers involved in crafting legislation to overhaul Capitol Hill's sexual harassment policies said right before Congress left for the December holidays that they plan to include a proposal that will make lawmakers personally accountable for settlements.

The legislation is expected to be introduced sometime this month, with the House Administration Committee advancing it to the floor shortly afterward.

Both the House and Senate adopted policies late last year to require annual sexual harassment awareness training for lawmakers and staff.

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierFarenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him Dem lawmaker calls on Fox News to fire Hannity Dems want Mattis to reveal experts behind Pentagon transgender policy MORE (D-Calif.), who is involved in drafting the legislation, has introduced a separate proposal that would require lawmakers accused of sexual harassment to reimburse taxpayers for settlements. 

Other lawmakers have proposed more stringent measures. Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGOP lawmakers demand Sessions investigate Clinton, Comey Volkswagen has not cleaned up its act, time for Congress to step in Trump pushes for added powers in spending fights MORE (R-Fla.) introduced a bill late last year that would require lawmakers and staff accused of harassment to personally pay for settlements. Lawmakers and staff who settled sexual harassment claims in the past on taxpayers' dime would have to reimburse the Treasury, with interest.