Blake Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claim

Rep. Blake Farenthold

Rep. Blake Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former communications director, Politico reported Friday.

The Republican congressman's former communications director, Lauren Greene, sued her boss in 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creating a hostile work environment, Politico said.

The only sitting US congressman known to wear ducky pajamas in public is also the only sitting USA congressman to have settled a sexual-harassment claim with Treasury Department funds in the past five years.

Tune in to KXAN News at 5 pm and 6 pm for reaction and more details as this story develops. Her complaint further alleged he "regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke they had to be on 'red head patrol to keep him out of trouble.'" After Greene initially complained about Farenthold's comments, she claimed she was improperly fired. The case was later dropped due to both parties reaching a private settlement.

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Two sources familiar with the case confirmed to NBC News that settlement was for the complaint against Farenthold.

According to Politico, House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting on Friday that only one House office had used the congressional Office of Compliance account in the last five years to settle a sexual harassment complaint. "The settlement involved a charge of wrongful dismissal by a former employee". "Usually they are looking for ways to avoid taking on hard questions, hoping the member leaves or burying the allegations until the "heat" goes away". The executive director can share all written and oral testimony from hearings and decisions, but not information discussed in mediation. But by keeping cases confidential, critics say the public money is being used to shelter the unnamed sexual harassers, and potentially endangering more victims. House Democratic leaders, as well as a number of rank-and-file members, have called for him to resign over the harassment allegations.

While the Office of Congressional Ethics conducted an investigation into Greene's allegations, it ultimately did not find "substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against" Greene, or that he retaliated against her following her complaints.

Farenthold said in a statement that he could neither confirm nor deny that his office was the one in question, as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits him from answering that question.

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