Rep. Blake Farenthold is refusing to pay taxpayers back for $84,000 he used to pay off a sexual harassment lawsuit, and Speaker Paul Ryan won’t do anything about it.
Republican congressman Blake Farenthold used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former aide. After initially promising to pay back the funds after the settlement was uncovered, Farenthold is now reneging on his payment.
Bob Haueter, Farenthold's chief of staff, told HuffPost that the congressman is now waiting for a bill addressing the issue of workplace harassment to make its way through the House and Senate. If the bill becomes law, he might pay up.
Farenthold is slated to retire at the end of his term in 2018.
He has an estimated net worth of at least $5.7 million.
Lauren Greene, the former staffer, said in her legal suit that Farenthold told another aide Greene could "show her nipples whenever she wanted to," and that he had "wet dreams" and "sexual fantasies" about his employee.
Greene also said that Farenthold was often drunk and flirtatious in the office, complained about his sexless marriage and bragged about a female lobbyist proposing "a threesome" with him.
In December of 2017, the House Committee on Ethics announced that it is investigating Farenthold "with respect to allegations that he, or any person acting on his behalf, sexually harassed a former member of his staff, discriminated against her on the basis of her gender, and retaliated against her for complaining of discriminatory conduct."
When he first ran for Congress in 2010, photos of Farenthold wearing duck pajamas and posing with women dressed in lingerie surfaced.
Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, have not made a public push for Farenthold to resign from his seat as other members of Congress have recently done. Ryan has also not made his fellow Republican pay back the funds he used.
Discussing Ryan's unwillingness to press Farenthold, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) said, "They have the ability to force it."
She added, "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."
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said Farenthold's behavior "undermines the integrity of our institution."
Ryan's spokesperson told the outlet that Ryan has pressed Farenthold, but he has not used his repeated appearances in the media or his time on the House floor to pressure the congressman in any meaningful way.
Farenthold isn't making good on his payment to taxpayers, and he's getting away with it, thanks to an absence of leadership from the most powerful man in the House, Paul Ryan.