Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) resigned Friday afternoon, months after it was revealed that he settled a sexual-harassment claim using government funds.
“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.
“Therefore, I sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott today resigning from the House of Representatives effective at 5:00 p.m. today, April 6, 2018.” He asked of his colleagues in a video statement: “Please stay in touch. I love y’all.”
The Texas Republican, hosted a talk-radio show prior to his 2010 election to represent the state’s 27th district, announced in December that he would not seek reelection in 2018—a decision supported by Republican leadership.
In 2014, he settled a sexual-harassment claim with his former communications director Lauren Greene and had been accused of cultivating a hostile working environment by other colleagues.
In settling that claim, Farenthold shelled out $84,000 in taxpayer money. Greene contended that the congressman told another aide in their office that he had “wet dreams” about her. She went on to say that when she protested some of the remarks Farenthold had made about her, she was fired.
The suit was dropped when they reached the settlement.
Another woman, who served as Farenthold’s press secretary, told The New York Times that the lawmaker drank often and bullied staffers.
“Because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘redhead patrol’ to keep him out of trouble,” Greene said in her complaint.
Farenthold, the previous owner of domain name blow-me.org, walked back a promise earlier this year to back the money he used for the settlement. As of his resignation, he still has not reimbursed the public funds.
The National Republican Congressional Committee hasn’t forgotten.
“I hope Blake is true to his word and pays back the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used as a settlement,” NRCC chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement. “As I have said repeatedly, Congress must hold ourselves to a higher standard and regain the trust of the American people.”
He became the sixth member of Congress—Democrat or Republican—to announce his exit amid sexual-harassment claims since the onset of the #MeToo movement.
In total, some 37 House Republicans have announced that they are retirement, resignation, or intention to run for a different office.