One month after promising to “hand a check over...to probably Speaker [Paul] Ryan” for the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment complaint, Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold has apparently decided not to do so, his spokeswoman told CNN on Wednesday, waiting instead to see whether federal law will force him to pay up.
Lauren Greene, a former aide for the congressman, sued Farenthold in 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creating a hostile work environment; in the years since, a cavalcade of former staffers and aides have also publicly discussed a work culture they describe as toxic and vomit-inducing. (Farenthold also admitted to CNN that he routinely referred to employees as “fucktards,” but added that he did so “in jest.”) The behavior earned him a U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation, and Farenthold announced he would resign at the end of his term.
And though Farenthold told reporters late last year he’d take out a personal loan to reimburse Congress for Greene’s settlement fee—going so far as to proclaim that while he “didn’t do anything wrong,” he doesn’t want taxpayers “to be on the hook for this”—Farenthold’s spokeswoman told CNN that his legal counsel advised he hold off on writing a check until lawmakers review the Congressional Accountability Act. How easily the mighty are persuaded.
Meanwhile, in the weeks following Farenthold’s December announcement, the House Ethics Committee said it would expand its investigation against him, probing concerns that the congressman used official resources for campaign activities and—would you look at that—lying to the committee.