Farenthold won’t run for reelection

Greg Nash

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) plans to retire after his term is up at the end of 2018, according to two GOP sources.

Farenthold spoke with GOP leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, ahead of an expected announcement.

Farenthold did not respond when questioned Thursday morning in a Capitol hallway.

He later announced his retirement in a video posted to Facebook and acknowledged he had managed an office with a dysfunctional workplace culture. But he continued to deny the allegations made by Lauren Greene, a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment.

“I had never served in public office before. I had no idea how to run a congressional office. And as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional,” Farenthold said.

“An unprofessional work environment is not a crime,” he added. “But it’s embarrassing to me and to my family. It reflects poorly on the institution of Congress, on my colleagues, and my constituents. And they deserve better.”

The House Ethics Committee announced earlier this month that it would open an investigation into Farenthold, particularly whether he sexually harassed Greene and retaliated against her when she complained about his conduct.

{mosads}Greene was fired from Farenthold’s office in 2014, and she filed a lawsuit against the congressman later that year. Politico reported earlier this month that Farenthold settled that suit in 2015 for $84,000 in taxpayer money.

Farenthold has said that he will repay the settlement. 

He has also denied the allegations against him. 

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said in a brief interview earlier this month with The New York Times. “I’m happy to visit with anybody who has a concern and explain the facts to the extent that I am allowed to under the settlement agreement.”
Another former staffer in his office described the work environment there as “emotionally damaging.”

“He allowed the hostility in his office to continue. He allowed us to work in a place that was just emotionally damaging, and that should never be allowed in any office,” Elizabeth Peace, who worked in Farenthold’s office for two years, told the Houston Chronicle in an interview published the same day the House Ethics Committee announced a probe of the allegations against him.

His retirement was first reported by Crossroads Today, an ABC News affiliate in Victoria, Texas.

The revelation of the payout and allegations against Farenthold came as a number of powerful men in politics, media, business and beyond have faced allegations of sexual misconduct and mounting pressure to resign from their jobs.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced earlier this month he was stepping down after a growing number of Democrats called for his resignation in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Ryan announced earlier this week that Congress plans to stop using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment cases against lawmakers.

On WISN Radio’s “The Jay Weber Show,” the Speaker said that congressional committees are currently at work on a “wholesale reform package” for sexual misconduct procedures.

When asked whether Congress would stop using taxpayer dollars to settle these cases, Ryan replied, “Yes, that’s among the things we’re working on right now.”

-Cristina Marcos contributed to this story which was updated at 11:48 a.m.

Tags Al Franken Blake Farenthold Paul Ryan Steve Stivers
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