Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold announced Thursday that he won't seek re-election next year, adding his name to the list of lawmakers leaving Congress amid sexual harassment allegations that have cost powerful men their jobs in politics, the arts and other industries.
House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Farenthold's decision not to run for re-election, telling reporters the congressman was "making the right decision to retire". "There are new stories that are very disconcerting". Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, made the decision after a House committee launched an investigation into sexual harassment claims made by a former aide against him. Franks left under pressure from Ryan after Franks was accused of pressuring aides to serve as a surrogate mother to carry his child, with one former staffer telling The Associated Press he'd offered $5 million to do so. That included a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from talking about details of the case.
In 2014, Mr Farenthold's former spokeswoman, Lauren Greene, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, and she received a settlement of $84,000 (£62,000).
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"I just want to let everyone know, I absolutely did not engage in any improper conduct", he said.
When Rekola was about to get married, Farenthold allegedly told him, "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle - it will be the last time", and then implied she was not fit to wear white on her wedding day, the outlet reported. He's my friend; I think he's been a good congressman.
In a video statement released today, Farenthold admitted he "allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional". It accommodated destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes, and behavior that was less than professional.
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The Texas congressman who used taxpayer money to silence sexual-harassment accusers is stepping down at the end of his term. "I want to be perfectly clear".
"There is not substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against complainant", the office had said.
"I'm announcing my decision not to run for re-election", Farenthold said in a Facebook video posted Thursday morning. "However, there is still more work to be done".
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