Taxpayers funded GOP lawmaker’s $84K sex harassment settlement: report

Taxpayers funded GOP lawmaker’s $84K sex harassment settlement: report
© Greg Nash

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) used taxpayer funds to reach a $84,000 settlement with his former communications director in 2015 after she accused him of sexual harassment, according to Politico.

Lauren Greene sued her boss in December 2014, alleging that he fostered a hostile work environment involving sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

That suit was settled, but the sum involved was not disclosed until Friday.

Rep. Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 MORE (R-Miss.) had revealed to congressional Republicans in a closed-door hearing earlier this week that just one House office in the last five years had used an obscure, taxpayer-funded Office of Compliance account to reach a settlement in a sexual harassment complaint, costing $84,000, according to Politico.

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Greene had been fired from her post in Farenthold's office in July 2014 after she said she complained about comments by Farenthold and another male staffer. 

The former communications director had been in her job for 18 months before being fired. 

Greene alleged in the lawsuit that the congressman “regularly drank to excess” and revealed to her he was "estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years."

She also alleged the male staffer in the office told her that Farenthold had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams" about her. 

Greene ended up filing a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., but the case was dropped when the two parties reached an agreement.

A statement drafted after the settlement, which was never released and obtained by Politico, said they had come to a deal in order to preserve tax payer funds. 

“After it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers — the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” the statement said. “After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator. ... The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial."

Farenthold, who had an estimated net worth of over $5,000,000 in 2015 according to Open Secrets, was investigated by the House Ethics Committee at the time.

The report of this latest sexual harassment settlement comes as women on Capitol Hill and across the country have accused numerous high-ranking men of sexual misconduct. 

Democrats have pressed 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.) to step down in the wake of allegations against him. 

He acknowledged earlier this month he had reached a $27,000 settlement with an accuser in 2015, which was also footed by taxpayers. The settlement involved a charge of wrongful dismissal by a former employee. Conyers denies allegations of sexual misconduct.