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Rep. Farenthold delays repaying taxpayers for $84K harassment settlement

Rep. Farenthold delays repaying taxpayers for $84K harassment settlement
© Greg Nash

Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFormer aides alleging sexual harassment on Capitol Hill urge congressional action AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups MORE (R-Texas) has not yet reimbursed taxpayers for an $84,000 settlement he reached with a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment, despite pledging last month that he would take out a personal loan to pay the cost.

Farenthold spokeswoman Stacey Daniels confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday that at the advice of counsel, Farenthold is waiting to see what changes Congress will make to its sexual harassment prevention policies before paying back the cost of the settlement.

The Corpus Christi representative had an estimated net worth of over $5,000,000 in 2015, according to Open Secrets.

CNN first reported that Farenthold has delayed reimbursing taxpayers for the settlement.

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Farenthold in early December initially told a local Texas TV station that he would take out a personal loan to repay the settlement and present a check to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE (R-Wis.) that week. 

Farenthold announced that he would not seek reelection, but will serve out the remainder of his term.

In the meantime, Farenthold is under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee for the sexual harassment allegation from the former staffer who received the $84,000 settlement. 

Ryan supports Farenthold’s pledge to reimburse taxpayers for the settlement. 

“Rep. Farenthold told the speaker he would be paying the settlement back and the speaker believes this is still the appropriate course of action,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The Ethics Committee is also reviewing allegations that Farenthold made "inappropriate statements" to his staff, whether he required congressional staff to perform campaign work and whether he made false statements to the panel. 

The New York Times and CNN both published reports in recent weeks describing how Farenthold allegedly made sexually graphic jokes and bullied staffers.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers involved in crafting legislation to overhaul Capitol Hill's sexual harassment policies said right before Congress left for the December holidays that they plan to include a proposal that will make lawmakers personally accountable for settlements.

The legislation is expected to be introduced sometime this month, with the House Administration Committee advancing it to the floor shortly afterward.

Both the House and Senate adopted policies late last year to require annual sexual harassment awareness training for lawmakers and staff.

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierFemale House Dems urge Senate to delay Kavanaugh testimony for FBI investigation Election Countdown: Kavanaugh allegations put GOP in tough spot | Republicans start to pull plug on candidates | Dems get early start in Iowa | O'Rourke defends Cruz after protesters interrupt dinner | Why Biden is the Democrat GOP most fears Dems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage MORE (D-Calif.), who is involved in drafting the legislation, has introduced a separate proposal that would require lawmakers accused of sexual harassment to reimburse taxpayers for settlements. 

Other lawmakers have proposed more stringent measures. Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight 'Hamilton' star aims to educate displaced Puerto Ricans about Florida voter ID laws De Blasio campaigns for Gillum while Florida Dem helps with Hurricane Michael recovery MORE (R-Fla.) introduced a bill late last year that would require lawmakers and staff accused of harassment to personally pay for settlements. Lawmakers and staff who settled sexual harassment claims in the past on taxpayers' dime would have to reimburse the Treasury, with interest.