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 CarterTrump endorses Texas rep who said he 'very well may have' committed impeachable offenses Early redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul Bottom line MORE on Thursday became the first Texas Republican lawmaker to suggest GOP Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonRep. Ron Wright dies after contracting COVID-19 Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond Bottom line 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 ConawayEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm If Congress can't work together to address child hunger we're doomed Ex-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm 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 RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.) called on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Michigan redistricting spat exposes competing interests in Democratic coalition Detroit voters back committee to study reparations 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 JordanBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview 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.”