GOP lawmaker won't seek reelection after messages, picture leak

Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonGOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) will not run for reelection after a nude photo and sexually explicit text messages he shared with a woman other than his wife went public this month.

"I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas," Barton, who has served in Congress since 1985, said in a Thursday interview with the Dallas Morning News.

"There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for reelection," he said.


The comments come after a woman, earlier this week, shared a string of sexually suggestive Facebook messages she received from the Texas lawmaker, who was married at the time of the correspondence.

During the exchanges that apparently took place between 2012 and 2013, Barton was married to his second wife, Terri.

The new Facebook messages compounded a scandal that erupted last week when a nude photo of Barton — which he texted to a woman who was not his wife — first appeared on an anonymous Twitter account and then began to circulate on social media.

Asked Thursday morning about the new revelations, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' MORE (R-Wis.) replied: “I have spoken with him, and I’m going to continue speaking with him.”

At his news conference, Ryan called for Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' McConnell: Reparations aren't 'a good idea' This week: Democrats move funding bills as caps deal remains elusive MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), the longest-serving current member of Congress, to resign his seat amid sexual harassment allegations from several former staffers.

But Ryan wouldn’t say Thursday whether he believed Barton should resign or face any reprimand.

Minutes later, Barton announced he was retiring after a 32-year career in Congress.

Barton publicly apologized a week ago for not using "better judgment" before sending the nude photo. 

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," Barton said in a statement last week.

"Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down," he continued.  

A spokeswoman for Barton said last week that the Texas lawmaker had no current plans to step down from his post.

Barton, the longest-serving member of the Texas delegation, said as recently as three weeks ago that he would seek another term.
His resignation comes as past sexual misconduct among lawmakers has been in the spotlight, but Barton has not been accused of harassment or abuse.
—Scott Wong contributed.