U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint brought by his former spokeswoman, sources told Politico.
The Corpus Christi lawmaker is the only known sitting member of Congress to have used the House account to pay an accuser, Politico reported.
“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 provided to Politico and the American-Statesman.
The story was later confirmed by NBC News.
News of the $84,000 payout comes amid reports earlier this week that another lawmaker, Dallas-area U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, sent lewd text messages to at least two women.
The 68-year-old announced Thursday that he plans to retire at the end of his current term.
For Farenthold, the Politico report revived details of a salacious lawsuit his former aide, Lauren Greene, brought two years ago.
The suit alleged that Farenthold told Green he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her and made other explicit remarks. In one instance, Greene claimed “Farenthold told (her) that she had something on her skirt and that he hoped his comment wouldn’t be taken for sexual harassment.”
The suit added: “A reasonable person would infer that Farenthold was joking that she had semen on her skirt.”
Farenthold said in a statement in 2015, when the suit was settled and dismissed, that he denied wrongdoing and was “glad to put this behind me and move forward.”
NBC News confirms Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is the lawmaker behind the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement using taxpayer money through the Office of Compliance, according to two sources familiar. (w/ @LACaldwellDC)— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) December 1, 2017