POLITICS
05/15/2018 04:26 pm ET Updated May 15, 2018

Blake Farenthold Says He Won't Repay $84,000 Sexual Harassment Settlement

The former representative from Texas says he's balking on the advice of his lawyer.

A day after announcing he had secured a new, six-figure lobbying job, former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said he has no intention of paying back tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars he used to settle a sexual harassment suit.

Farenthold, who resigned from the House in April, used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former aide in 2014. When the news about the settlement broke in December, Farenthold vowed to quickly pay the money back but never did.

Asked on Tuesday whether he would make the payment in the wake of his new job, he said he had no intention to do so.

“I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,” Farenthold told ABC. “That’s why it hasn’t been repaid.”

Farenthold resigned abruptly, just as the House Ethics Committee was about to rule against him in an investigation into whether he sexually harassed members of his staff, used official money for campaign purposes and lied in testimony to the committee.

His resignation effectively ended the probe, since he was no longer a member of the House. Had it continued, the committee might have required him to pay back the $84,000.

In the 2014 suit, former aide Lauren Greene alleged that Farenthold was often drunk and flirtatious at work and on at least one occasion told another aide that she could “show her nipples whenever she wanted to” and that he had “wet dreams” about her.

After Farenthold’s resignation, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he expected the former lawmaker to repay the money. The House Ethics Committee also released a statement urging Farenthold to follow through on his earlier repayment promise.

On Monday, Farenthold announced that he had landed a new job at the Calhoun Port Authority in Port Lavaca, Texas, as reported by Caller Times. He is to serve as the port’s full-time legislative liaison, with responsibilities that include increasing its visibility with federal lawmakers and the Trump administration.

His annual salary is expected to be roughly $160,000.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who has been critical of Farenthold for his indiscretions, encouraged her colleagues to not meet with him as he plies his new trade.

“I would hope Republicans would stand up for what’s right and say he is not allowed in their offices until he pays up,” Speier told HuffPost in a statement.

The story has been updated with comment from Rep. Speier. Jennifer Bendery contributed reporting.

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