I long for the day when I never have to read about Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) again, but alas, that day has not yet come. Politico reports that the Tea Party congressman paid $84,000 in taxpayer money to a former spokeswoman after she sued him in 2014 for gender discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation. Sources told Politico that Farenthold was the only known sitting member of Congress to have settled such claims using Office of Compliance funds.
Farenthold was most recently in the news for blaming three “female senators from the Northeast” for hindering the Senate’s Obamacare repeal push (and also challenging them to an “Aaron Burr-style” duel), after which Sen. Susan Collins was caught on a hot mic saying “I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.” Previously, Farenthold was known for having once owned the web domain Blow-me.org.
Lauren Greene, Rep. Farenthold’s former communications director, sued him in 2014, claiming that she’d been sexually harassed by Farenthold and aide Bob Haueter and that she was fired after complaining. In the complaint, Greene alleged that another staffer informed her Farenthold was having “wet dreams” about her, and “regularly made comments designed to gauge whether Plaintiff was interested in a sexual relationship.” From Politico’s writeup:
“Farenthold regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol to keep him out of trouble,’” Greene’s complaint alleged. “On one occasion, prior to February 2014, during a staff meeting at which [Greene] was in attendance, Farenthold disclosed that a female lobbyist had propositioned him for a ‘threesome.’”
The complaint added: “On June 10, 2014, in response to Haueter’s complaint about [Greene’s] shirt … which Haueter claimed was transparent and showed [Greene’s] nipples, Farenthold told [another woman staffer] that [Greene] could show her nipples whenever she wanted to,” Greene’s complaint asserted.
Greene said Farenthold avoided meeting one-on-one with her, and she also felt awkward about meeting with Farenthold.
The complaint alleged that Haueter “made Plaintiff’s professional life unbearable.” She was allegedly “marginalized and undermined” after complaining to Farenthold, and fired a few weeks later. Greene dropped her lawsuit after a settlement was reached, with Politico now reporting that said settlement in fact involved taxpayer dollars. Farenthold himself is worth $5.8 million.
“While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question,” Farenthold said in a statement to Politico.
What an enormous shock this is.