GOP Rep. Farenthold resigns amid sexual harassment scandal
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) announced Friday that he is resigning from Congress immediately after facing a backlash over using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim.
“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” Farenthold said in a statement.
The abrupt resignation is effective as of 5 p.m. on Friday, according to his office. His official congressional Twitter account appeared to have been deleted as of that time.
Lauren Greene, the congressman’s former communications director, sued her boss over allegations he fostered a hostile work environment where gender discrimination and sexual harassment were prevalent.
Farenthold initially said in December he would not seek reelection after coming under fire for using an Office of Compliance account to pay his accuser. It’s unclear whether he has made good on his promise to pay back the $84,000, but a statement from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) indicates he has not.
“I hope Blake is true to his word and pays back the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used as a settlement,” said NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio). “As I have said repeatedly, Congress must hold ourselves to a higher standard and regain the trust of the American people.”
As of February, his office said he was “waiting on advice of counsel before acting.”
Farenthold denied a number of the allegations but apologized for his use of inappropriate language and outbursts at staff in a video posted on Facebook last year.
The House Ethics Committee has also been investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Farenthold.
The House in February passed landmark legislation to overhaul Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment policies following a string of recent revelations that multiple lawmakers engaged in misconduct.
The Senate is facing increased pressure to vote on the House-passed legislation.
Updated at 6:21 p.m.