Another prominent Republican lawmaker announced he will retire at the end of his term after it was revealed he used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim and abused his staff, Politico reports.
Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold announced on Thursday that he will not seek reelection after it was revealed that the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into a number of allegations against him.
Farenthold made the announcement after meeting with Paul Ryan and Republican leaders on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Politico reported that the 55-year-old married four-term congressman had settled a sexual harassment claim brought by his former communications director for $84,000.
Lauren Greene, 30, says her career was destroyed after she accused Farenthold of sexual harassment and now has to rely on her family for financial support.
“I was told right away that I would be, quote-unquote, ‘blackballed’ if I came forward,” she told Politico. “That’s exactly what happened.”
In December 2014, Greene filed a lawsuit accusing the congressman of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
She said that Farenthold told her colleague that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her.
Farenthold’s subsequent communications director, Michael Rekola, has now also come forward to accuse Farenthold of abusing his staff.
Rekola told CNN that Farenthold made sexually inappropriate jokes and berated aides.
Rekola said that Farenthold’s bullying led him to seek medical and psychological treatment after he began to vomit daily from the abuse.
Rekola recalled Farenthold telling him, “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.”
Rekola said Farenthold then joked about his fiancee having premarital sex.
“I was disgusted and I left. I walked out,” Rekola said, adding that he submitted his two-weeks notice shortly after that encounter.
The former communications director also recalled Farenthold berating aides, throwing fits of rage, and routinely calling his aides “f*cktards.”
“Every time he didn’t like something, he would call me a f**ktard or idiot. He would slam his fist down in rage and explode in anger,” Rekola said. “He was flying off the handle on every little thing. I couldn’t find a way to control it.”
Rekola said Farenthold also often made crude remarks about women’s appearance, discussing the size of their breasts and buttocks.
Elizabeth Peace, who became Farenthold’s communications director after Rekola quit, confirmed Rekola’s account of the congressman’s behavior.
“Every staffer in that area heard it,” Peace said of the comment about Rekola’s fiancee. “It was the most shocking thing I’d heard him say at that point.”
Farenthold denied making the comment about Rekola’s fiancee, but admitted that he called his aides “f*cktards,” though he stressed that it was “in jest, not in anger.”
“In hindsight, I admit it wasn’t appropriate,” Farenthold said.
According to CNN, Rekola also approached the House Ethics Committee last week. As a rare male aide to accuse a lawmaker of sexually inappropriate behavior, he wrote to committee chairwoman Rep. Susan Brooks that he wanted to provide “examples of sexually inappropriate comments” the congressman made, as well as his “emotionally damaging” and “intimidating” behavior.