House

GOP lawmaker says he’ll repay cost of harassment settlement

Greg Nash

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said Monday he intends to reimburse taxpayers for the $84,000 spent settling a sexual harassment suit filed by his former communications director. 

“I’m going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan, or somebody, and say ‘look, here’s the amount of my settlement, give it back to the taxpayers,’ ” Farenthold told the Corpus Christi, Texas, NBC affiliate.

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

{mosads}That suit was settled using taxpayer funds, but the sum involved was not disclosed until last week, as multiple lawmakers are facing accusations of past sexual misconduct.

“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold said Monday. “And I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying, ‘Blake, you benefited from the system, you don’t have a right to talk about it or fix it.’ “

In addition to Farenthold, multiple women have accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of groping them without consent during photo ops. 

Rep. Joe Barton (R), the longest-serving current member of Texas’s delegation, announced last week he would not seek reelection after a nude photo and sexually explicit text messages he shared with a woman other than his wife leaked to the public.

And Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is under growing pressure from lawmakers to step down in the wake of allegations from former staffers against him. 

Conyers has denied allegations he made unwanted sexual advances to staffers, but acknowledged that he reached a $27,000 settlement in 2015, which was also funded by taxpayers.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said last month that the House has paid out roughly $15 million in harassment settlements over more than a decade, though that number applies to all complaints, not just those involving sexual harassment.

Tags Al Franken Blake Farenthold Jackie Speier Joe Barton John Conyers
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