Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who ran afoul of the #MeToo movement after it was reported that he had paid $84,000 of taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment complaint by his former communications director, announced this afternoon that he is ducking out of Congress early.
He had previously announced he would not seek re-election this year, but the news that he was flying the coop early, effective at 5:00 pm ET today, was a surprise.
The Dallas Morning News reported Farenthold’s statement, which claimed feathers in his cap like cutting spending but chickened out of mentioning his scandals.
“I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” wrote Farenthold. “Leaving my service in the House, I’m able to look back at the entirety of my career in public office and say that it was well worthwhile.”
As a reminder, the ways that Farenthold looked for ways to serve while he was in office included frequently drinking to excess and telling a young female staffer that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her, and that she could “show her nipples whenever she wanted to.” Women in Farenthold’s office complained of a “toxic work environment,” in which their male colleagues feared no reprisals for conduct like making lewd comments about female reporters’ breast sizes and other crude jokes.
Farenthold had promised to repay the $84,000 settlement — again, paid with taxpayer money — but news broke last week that he had failed to do so. Politico reported last year that his financial disclosure forms showed him to have a well-feathered nest, with a net worth of at least $2.4 million.
The Texas Republican’s foot-dragging on repaying the settlement funds and continued presence in Congress drew accusations of hypocrisy from Democrats, who pointed to the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) after he was accused of sexually harassing Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.