Texas' Farenthold won't seek House re-election amid scandal

Allen Cone
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced he won't seek re-election to the U.S. House next year. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced he won't seek re-election to the U.S. House next year. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Texas U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold announced Thursday he won't seek re-election next year and apologized for his "angry outbursts" in his office and amid claims of sexual harassment.

Farenthold, a Republican lawmaker since 2010, announced in a five-minute video post on Facebook he won't seek to remain in the House when his terms end in 2018.


"I'd never served in office before," said Farenthold, a former conservative broadcaster and attorney. "I had no idea how to run a congressional office. And as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional.

"I understand fully that this issue has become a political distraction and I would be forced to engage in a monthlong campaign for personal vindication. Quite simply, my constituents deserve better. Therefore I'm announcing my decision not to run for re-election."

RELATED Sen. Chuck Schumer alerts police of false sexual harassment claim

The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into harassment accusations against him -- and former staffers have alleged abusive conduct.

"It accommodated destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional," he said. "And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and too often a failure to treat people with the respect they deserved. That was wrong. I'm profoundly sorry."


Farenthold spoke Wednesday with House Speaker Paul Ryan and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers.

RELATED Arizona Rep. Trent Franks resigning Friday after harassment claims

"Look, I had a couple of conversations with Blake Farenthold," Ryan said at his weekly news conference. "I think he's making the right decision to retire. There are new stories that are disconcerting. Unacceptable behavior has been alleged in those stories. And I think he's made the right decision that he's leaving Congress. And that reflects on the conversations we've had."

Former aide Lauren Greene said Farenthold told another staffer in the office that he had "sexual fantasies" about her. Greene received $84,000 from a congressional fund to resolve workplace disputes, and she told Politico that she was blacklisted on Capitol Hill after raising her concerns.

Farenthold, who turned 56 on Tuesday and is married, has denied those accusations. He said he's working on a loan to repay the money from the fund.

RELATED Franken announces Senate resignation amid sexual misconduct claims

"I just want to let everyone know, I absolutely did not engage in any improper conduct," he told constituents on Skype. "I was investigated by the office of congressional ethics, and they found 6-0, there wasn't enough effort."


Michael Rekola, Farenthold's communications director in 2015, told CNN the congressman often told sexually explicit jokes and berated aides.

Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Texas' secretary of state, said Farenthold's name will appear on the ballot in the March primary because he missed the deadline to withdraw.

RELATED Conyers retiring amid sexual misconduct allegations

"Barring any challenge to the candidate's application before the mail-in ballots go out in late January, his name will still be on the ballot for the March 6 Primary," Taylor wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Farenthold's district covers Texas' Gulf Coast, including Corpus Christi.

Several Republicans earlier announced they would challenge Farenthold.

Two other members of the House -- Democrats John Conyers of Michigan and Trent Franks of Arizona -- have announced their immediate resignations amid sexual misconduct allegations. Joe Barton, a Republican Texas congressman, also said he won't seek re-election after nude photo of him surfaced online.

Last week, Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota said he will soon resign his seat after women accused him of inappropriate conduct.

Latest Headlines