Farenthold hasn’t paid back $84K settlement

Farenthold hasn’t paid back $84K settlement
Blake Farenthold

Disgraced Rep. Blake Farenthold has not yet repaid $84,000 in taxpayer money for a settlement reached with a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment and other improper conduct, despite the Texas Republican’s statement late last year saying he would do so.

Nearly one month after the initial statement, Farenthold’s communications director, Stacey Daniels, tells CNN that he has not yet written a check, and on the advice of counsel is waiting to see what changes the House will make to the Congressional Accountability Act before repaying those funds.

On December 4, Farenthold told a local TV station, KRIS in Corpus Christi, Texas, “I’m … going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan or somebody and say, ‘Look, here’s the amount of my settlement. Give it back to the taxpayers. I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this.'” But that check is on hold.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan’s office told CNN on Wednesday that Ryan still wants Farenthold to pay back the money.

“Rep. Farenthold told the speaker he would be paying the settlement back, and the speaker believes this is still the appropriate course of action,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The Congressional Accountability Act is the 1995 law that established the Office of Compliance, Congress’ little known agency that handles workplace complaints. The Office of Compliance, which has typically not made public breakdowns of how it spends taxpayer funds, has been under increasing pressure to do so by lawmakers and those outside of Congress who have called for more transparency.

Farenthold, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election, faces investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which said in December that it was expanding its investigation into him to include allegations that he inappropriately used official resources for campaign activities.

Farenthold was already being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for allegations of sexual harassment from the former aide, Lauren Greene, who received the $84,000 settlement after she sued Farenthold in December 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.