Blake Farenthold Refuses to Pay For Special Election To Replace Him

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, arrives for a House Committee on the Judiciary oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

One month after resigning from office, Representative Blake Farenthold has published a four-page letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott rejecting Abbott’s demand that he pay for the special election to fill the seat he vacated. The letter also discusses the events that led to his sexual harassment lawsuit, the $84,000 settlement, and his resignation.

Among other things in the letter, Farenthold:

  • Argues against the idea that he “wrongfully” used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim;
  • States that the fact that he settled a lawsuit wasn’t “an admission of any wrongdoing” in his case;
  • Admits he did “run a more informal office than some people may have expected from a career politician”;
  • Says he regrets “allowing the House attorney’s 2015 mediated settlement of the suit against [his] office to move forward” and the only reason he did so was “to save the taxpayers money and focus 100%” on his constituents;
  • Reveals he assumed the “matter was concluded” after the OCE investigation, settlement, and his re-election;
  • Blames the “political witch hunt” on partisanship (due to his support of President Trump) and the #MeToo movement; and
  • Says he decided to resign after learning the expenses to defend himself.

Nowhere in the letter does Farenthold address how or when he intends to repay taxpayers the $84,000 used to settle the the sexual harassment claim made against his office — a promise he made when the settlement became public.

After pledging to pay the sum back in December, Farenthold found reasons to delay the payment for months and then resigned without paying it back.

Curiously, though Farenthold wrote he originally offered to use his own $84,000 to settle the sexual harassment claim and only didn’t because he was told not to by the Office of House Employment Counsel, he has seemed resistant to fulfilling his promise since.

He wrote in his letter, though, that he does “not intend to end [his] public service.” So perhaps there’s still hope he’ll pay back the $84,000 of taxpayer funds he used to settle a sexual harassment claim.

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.