House

Farenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him

Former GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold's (R-Texas) sudden resignation announcement earlier this month was prompted by an impending House Ethics ruling against him, the office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

The committee - which was investigating allegations he sexually harassed his employees and lied during his testimony - was forced to close its probe after Farenthold's abrupt departure. It remains unclear what the repercussions for the lawmaker would have been had they ruled against him.

HuffPost first reported the motivation behind Farenthold's April 6 resignation, which came months after he had already announced that he wouldn't run for reelection in 2018. 

Farenthold had come under fire late last year following revelations that he'd settled a sexual harassment claim to a former aide after she sued him over her 2014 firing. The $84,000 payout came from an obscure, taxpayer-backed settlement fund created for such purposes. Farenthold had vowed to repay the Treasury for the amount, but left Congress on April 6 without doing so.

The surprise resignation came just days after a subpanel of the Ethics Committee notified him of an April 11 vote on its findings against him, a document known as a Statement of Alleged Violation.

"Pursuant to Committee Rule 26(c), on March 30, 2018, the ISC informed Representative Farenthold it had scheduled a vote on a Statement of Alleged Violation in this matter, to occur on April 11, 2018," Ethics said in a statement last week. "Representative Farenthold resigned from Congress on April 6, 2018, before the scheduled vote on a Statement of Alleged Violation, at which time the ISC lost jurisdiction over him."

The committee, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) have all called on Farenthold to repay the settlement money. 

Farenthold didn't respond to a request for comment.

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