News and Commentary

GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold To ‘Retire’ Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Early Thursday, Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold became the third Federal legislator to resign over allegations of sexual harassment and inter-office impropriety.

The news comes amid word that a second Farenthold aide has approached the House Ethics Committee to complain about Farenthold’s behavior, alleging that the GOP Rep made his working life so difficult he had to seek psychological counseling.

CNN reports that Farenthold’s communications director Michael Rekola told leadership that the Congressman frequently made “sexually graphic jokes” and “berated aides,” “bullying that Rekola says led him to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.”

Rekola also alleges the Congressman made off-color jokes about Rekola’s wedding and his bride-to-be.

Farenthold denies the allegations, which don’t necessarily amount to sexual harassment so much as they do to a “toxic work environment,” but says he will “retire” anyway, leaving office when his term ends in January of 2019.

He likely didn’t make the decision alone. On Wednesday, Farenthold reportedly met twice with Speaker of the House, and Republican leader Paul Ryan, likely over recent headlines that called Farenthold’s office a “Frat House on the Hill.” A New York Times expose, published Monday, revealed that the Congressman reveled in “tawdry jokes,” and that he often made women in his office uncomfortable with sexually graphic language.

Those revelations came just days after reporters discovered Congress had paid out an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement involving the Texas Rep.

Few Republicans had called on Farenthold to step down, like Sen. Al Franken and Rep. John Conyers, but it’s clear Farenthold wanted to head off the issue.