DALLAS (CN) – U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas said Thursday he will not seek re-election next year, one day after a constituent accused him of sending her inappropriate private messages on Facebook and a week after his nude sexting photo was posted online.
The Republican had insisted he would seek an 18th term in Congress next year after apologizing for the nude image. He appears to have changed his mind after Kelly Canon came forward Wednesday with screenshots of sexual messages she received about four years ago during a Facebook conversation.
“So … that means u r wearing a tank top only… and not panties? right now?” Barton allegedly asked.
“Ok thats enough,” Canon replied. “You know my attire! Good night…..”
A message a few days later from Barton allegedly read, “wanna tell me what u r wearing or not wearing tonight miss sweet dreams.” Canon says she replied, “still in my ‘regular’ clothes!”
Barton has represented the 6th District of Texas since 1985. The district includes the suburbs of Ennis, Mansfield and Arlington near Dallas and Fort Worth. Barton’s current term expires in January 2019. He thanked his constituents for their “support and friendship,” but did not mention the allegations against him.
“I am very proud of my public record and the many accomplishments of my office,” Barton said in a statement. “It has been a tremendous honor to represent the 6th District of Texas for over three decades, but now it is time to step aside and let there be a new voice.”
Barton said his slogan as a young congressman was “listening to you in Texas, working for you in Washington,” and that it was a way of life for him.
Barton is among several lawmakers who are facing allegations of inappropriate behavior towards women, including U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., U.S. Rep. John Conyers, R-Mich., and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, R-Ala.
The claims come amidst a deluge of allegations of sexual misconduct against men in positions of power that has claimed the jobs of movie producer Harvey Weinstein, journalists Charlie Rose and Matt Laurer and music executive Russell Simmons, among others.
Barton told The Dallas Morning News he believes he could still win re-election, but that it would be a “nasty campaign” that would be “difficult” for his family.
He said he made up his mind to not seek re-election on Wednesday and not because of the growing calls from fellow Republicans for him to step aside.
“I’m at peace with it,” he said. “I’m not happy about what’s gone on. But I did do the things and I’ve always been truthful … You have to be accountable for your actions, and I’m trying to do that.”
Barton repeated earlier claims that he is the victim of “revenge porn” and said an investigation is underway.
Canon said Thursday she is “glad he came to his senses” in not seeking re-election.
“I’m a little disheartened that it took me coming forward to make him realize it’s more than just a picture,” she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s a pattern.”
Canon said she never completely shut down the conversations she had with Barton because she is politically active and wanted an open line of communication with him.
“He is my congressman,” she told NBC-affiliate KXAS on Wednesday. “This is an effort not only to get him to not run again, but to get other people – but to get other women – to come forward, too.”