In the last six months, the #MeToo movement has produced real results, to the extent that two Democrats were forced out of office, and Roy Moore lost his race after allegations of preying on teenage girls. However, one elected official has managed to escape relatively under the radar: Republican Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas.
Last December, it was made public that Farenthold used $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
On December 4, Farenthold told KRIS-TV that he was “going to hand over a check this week” and a few days later announced he planned to retire at the end of 2018. However, Farenthold, who Politico reports is worth over $2 million, has yet to repay the amount.
At the end of January, Farenthold’s office stated the delay was because he was now “waiting to see what changes the House makes to the Congressional Accountability Act before repaying the funds.”
Meanwhile, Politico reported on March 20 that Farenthold was “considering stepping down from Congress before the end of his term,” which would therefore “allow him to dodge an Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of inappropriate office behavior.”
And now, four months after the details of the settlement first became public, the Huffington Post revealed that Farenthold has still not paid the $84,000 back, causing Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) to put pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) via a letter earlier this month.
Congressman Blake Farenthold spent $84K in your money to settle a sex harassment lawsuit against him — he allegedly told a female aide he had “wet dreams” about her, for one — hasn't paid it back & no one is doing anything about it. https://t.co/VL4iHcHlht
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) March 30, 2018
The Huffington Post has obtained a copy of a letter that Speier sent to Ryan. It’s available here.
According to the Huffington Post, Farenthold’s office did not respond to requests for comment, while Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong stated that “the Speaker has reiterated to Mr. Farenthold that he needs to keep his promise to repay taxpayers for the settlement.”
Taxpayers deserve more answers. Why has he still not paid back the money?
Last month, Speier pointed out that, while Democrats who had been found guilty of sexual misconduct had been ousted, Republican leadership had yet to force Farenthold to repay the funds or resign: “They have the ability to force it. Blake Farenthold has to be, I think, cajoled, embarrassed, pressured by all of us to pay the money back. We had a situation on the Democratic side, we pressured members to resign, and they did.”
She’s got a point.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.