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Farenthold says he won't repay $84K sexual harassment settlement

Farenthold says he won't repay $84K sexual harassment settlement
© Greg Nash

Former 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) says he does not intend to pay back $84,000 in taxpayer dollars used to settle a sexual harassment case against him, despite pledging to do so last year.

The former congressman told ABC News on Tuesday that he has been advised by his legal counsel not to pay back the money used to settle the lawsuit, which became public last year and led to Farenthold's resignation.

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“I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,” Farenthold told ABC News. “That’s why it hasn’t been repaid.”

Farenthold had previously told an NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas, in December that he would repay the money "this week," saying he would likely hand a check to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection 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 Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.) personally.

“I’m going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan, or somebody, and say ‘look, here’s the amount of my settlement, give it back to the taxpayers,’ ” he said at the time.

Farenthold was sued in 2014 by his former communications director, who alleged the Texas Republican fostered a hostile work environment, sexually harassed female staffers and discriminated against women. Farenthold denied the accusations, but resigned in the wake of the allegations.

“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this," Farenthold said last year in a statement. "And I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying, ‘Blake, you benefited from the system, you don’t have a right to talk about it or fix it.' "

The House Ethics Committee, led by Reps. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksHouse conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Women poised to take charge in Dem majority Hillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid MORE (R-Ind.) and Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Reporter tops lawmakers to win charity spelling bee House panels set up to probe indicted GOP Reps. Collins, Hunter MORE (D-Fla.), released a statement in April calling on Farenthold to follow through on his pledge to repay the $84,000 settlement.

"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 statement read. "We encourage him in the strongest possible terms to uphold that promise."