GOP Rep Used Public Funds to Settle Harassment Claim
Sources say Farenthold paid ex-communications director $84K
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2017 11:38 AM CST
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, holds a town hall meeting Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Wharton, Texas.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

(Newser) – A Texas Republican paid $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim against him in 2015, NBC News reports. Lauren Greene says Rep. Blake Farenthold told a staffer he had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about her while she was working as his communications director. She says he routinely made comments to her to see if she was interested in having sex with him and says she was fired a month after complaining about the behavior. Greene filed a sexual harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environment claim against Farenthold in 2014. According to the Washington Post, Farenthold denies any wrongdoing in the case. Still, sources say Farenthold, who Politico reports has a minimum net worth of $2.4 million, settled the claim using $84,000 from the Office of Compliance.

The Office of Compliance was created nearly 20 years ago after dozens of complaints of sexual harassment against Republican Sen. Bob Packwood. Since then, it has spent more than $17 million of taxpayer money to settle workplace complaints involving House lawmakers. It's unclear how much of that money went toward settling sexual harassment complaints. A Republican lawmaker said Friday that only the single $84,000 payment was made to settle a sexual harassment complaint since 2012. In a statement prepared by Farenthold and Greene in 2015 but not released at the time, they say they settled to save the taxpayers' money because "further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved. On Friday, Farenthold said he "can neither confirm nor deny" that he was involved in the $84,000 settlement.

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