Talk in GOP Rep's Office, per Ex-Aides: Strip Clubs, Breasts

Blake Farenthold also accused of 'acts of aggression or rage'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2017 10:10 AM CST
GOP Rep Allowed Talk of Breasts, Genitals: Ex-Staffers
Paul Ryan administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3, 2017.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

It isn't just talk of "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" that allegedly permeates Rep. Blake Farenthold's office. Though the Republican congressman from Texas has denied wrongdoing after paying $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim three years ago, two former aides tell the New York Times that Farenthold "set the tone for off-color jokes and inappropriate banter" that made discussions of women's breasts and male lobbyists' genitals commonplace. Elizabeth Peace, who served as Farenthold's press secretary until March, says she quit partly because of inappropriate sexualized comments, including discussions of strip clubs, photos of male lobbyists' genitals sent to female staffers, and conversations on which female reporters had breast implants.

Per the Houston Chronicle, Peace complained about inappropriate sexualized comments in 2016, the same time another aide complained that female employees were treated "differently" in his office. A rep for Farenthold says a review found no evidence of wrongdoing and employees "took sensitivity and anti-harassment training." Still, Peace says "the behavior never changed," per the Times. An unnamed former aide who describes discussions of breasts also accuses Farenthold of "rude comments" and "acts of aggression or rage." In response, the Texas Tribune notes the four-term congressman faces the toughest re-election fight of his career with Republican Reps. Mia Love of Utah and Barbara Comstock of Virginia demanding he resign. Most Republicans, however, appear to remain in Farenthold's corner. (More sexual harassment stories.)

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