Texas governor demands Farenthold cover costs of special election to replace him

Texas governor demands Farenthold cover costs of special election to replace him
© Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) sent a letter to former Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas) on Wednesday demanding the former lawmaker cover the hefty cost of a special election to replace him.

In the letter, Abbott accused Farenthold of "wrongly" using taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim against him, a scandal which eventually led to Farenthold's resignation from Congress.

"While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress,” Abbott wrote.


“I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election. This seat must be filled, and the counties and taxpayers in the 27th Congressional District should not again pay the price for your actions,” he wrote.

The letter was issued concurrently with a proclamation from Abbott's office declaring that a special election to select Farenthold's replacement would be held on Saturday, June 30.

In his proclamation, Abbott cited Hurricane Harvey relief efforts as a reason why the district needed to fill the seat for the remainder of Farenthold's term, which ends in November.

"Hurricane relief efforts depend heavily on action at the federal level, which can only occur if Texans residing in disaster zones have full and effective representation in Congress. I remain committed to ensuring that the 27th Congressional District is fully represented as the recovery process continues," Abbot wrote.

Farenthold resigned from Congress at the beginning of April, initially pledging last year to pay back the $84,000 of taxpayer money used to settle his sexual harassment claim. It's unclear if he followed through on the payment.

“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 earlier this month.

The House Ethics Committee ended its investigation of Farenthold after he resigned, as it can only probe sitting members of Congress. But when closing the case, the panel strongly urged Farenthold to repay the $84,000.

"We note Representative Farenthold publicly promised to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for $84,000 in funds paid to settle the lawsuit brought against him for claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation," the committee said. "We encourage him in the strongest possible terms to uphold that promise."