SAN ANTONIO (CN) – Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold resigned Friday, bowing to months of pressure to step aside amid an avalanche of sexual harassment allegations that have threatened his career since at least 2014.
Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican who swept into office under the national Tea Party movement in 2010, came under fire last year following revelations that he used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claims. He announced Dec. 14 that he would not seek re-election to the South Texas-based congressional seat.
“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” Farenthold, 56, said in a statement where he made no mention of the sexual harassment allegations.
Farenthold, an attorney and former conservative talk radio host, has acknowledged past bad behaviors with staff, but has denied allegations from his former spokeswoman Lauren Greene.
Greene claimed in her 2014 lawsuit that Farenthold told her earlier that year that he was estranged from his wife and hadn’t had sex with her in years. The complaint claims that Farenthold told Greene’s female colleague, who relayed the comments to Greene, that he had sexual fantasies and wet dreams about Greene.
“Farenthold would compliment plaintiff’s appearance, or comment on her wardrobe, and then joke that he hoped his compliments did not constitute sexual harassment,” according to the lawsuit, which Greene filed after Farenthold fired her.
A court-appointed mediator worked out the settlement, which was paid from an account managed by the Office of Compliance. The office handles in-house sexual harassment and other workplace dispute claims made by congressional staffers.
News reports about the settlement prompted calls for Farenthold to resign, which he did Friday afternoon in a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and video posted to Youtube.