Dec. 14 (UPI) — Dealing with claims of sexual harassment, Texas U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold won’t seek re-election next year, sources said Thursday.
Farenthold, a Republican lawmaker since 2010, has not yet officially announced his plans — but CNN, The Washington Post and Politico cited sources Thursday in reporting he won’t seek to remain in the House.
“I spoke with his campaign manager, and he confirmed Blake will not run for re-election,” said Mike Bergsma, chairman of the Nueces County Republican Party, told the Post.
The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into harassment accusations against him — and former staffers have alleged abusive conduct.
Farenthold spoke Wednesday with House Speaker Paul Ryan and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers, according to GOP sources.
Former aide Lauren Greene said Farenthold told another staffer in the office that he had “sexual fantasies” about her. Greene received $84,000 from a congressional fund to resolve workplace disputes, and she told Politico that she was blacklisted on Capitol Hill after raising her concerns.
Farenthold, who is 55 and married, has denied the accusations. He said he’s working on a loan to repay the money from the fund.
“I just want to let everyone know, I absolutely did not engage in any improper conduct,” he told constituents on Skype. “I was investigated by the office of congressional ethics, and they found 6-0, there wasn’t enough effort.”
Michael Rekola, Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, told CNN the congressman often told sexually explicit jokes and berated aides.
Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Texas’ secretary of state, said Farenthold’s name will appear on the ballot in the March primary because he missed the deadline to withdraw.
“Barring any challenge to the candidate’s application before the mail-in ballots go out in late January, his name will still be on the ballot for the March 6 Primary,” Taylor wrote in an email to the Post.
Farenthold’s district covers Texas’ Gulf Coast, including Corpus Christi.
Two other members of the House — Democrats John Conyers of Michigan and Trent Franks of Arizona — have announced their immediate resignations amid sexual misconduct allegations. Joe Barton, a Republican Texas congressman, also said he won’t seek re-election after nude photo of him surfaced online.
Last week, Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota said he will soon resign his seat after women accused him of inappropriate conduct.