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 CarterProgressives to target Dem reps in 2020 primary fights Puerto Ricans may have elected Rick Scott and other midterm surprises Rise of big cities push Texas to swing-state territory — maybe by 2020 MORE on Thursday became the first Texas Republican lawmaker to suggest GOP 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, 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 ConawayConservative leader Meadows condemns King comments 'in strongest sense' GOP takes victory lap around Pelosi after passing border wall bill House Intel votes to release Roger Stone transcript to Mueller 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 RyanAEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts Ellen DeGeneres buys cheesecakes from furloughed federal workers who were baking to make ends meet Trump teases 'major announcement' about shutdown on Saturday MORE (D-Calif.) called on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersWomen's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC How Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others Dem chairwoman plans hearing on Medicare for all proposals 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 JordanMcCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader Republicans request update on investigation into ex-FBI official accused of leaks GOP lawmakers rip Dems for calling Cohen to testify 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.”