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GOP lawmaker has yet to reimburse taxpayers for $84K sexual harassment settlement
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) stands with Republican lawmakers on Dec. 20 as President Donald Trump speaks about the passage of tax reform legislation on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

GOP lawmaker has yet to reimburse taxpayers for $84K sexual harassment settlement

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) has yet to reimburse taxpayers for an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement despite a vow to do so, according to CNN.

What happened?

Politico reported last month that Farenthold used $84,000 in taxpayer funds from a congressional account to settle a 2014 sexual harassment lawsuit by one of his former employees.

According to the report, Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director, sued him in 2014 alleging sexual harassment and that he created a hostile work environment.

Greene claimed in the lawsuit that another Farenthold staffer told her the lawmaker had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. She said after she objected to the comments Farenthold and a male staffer had made to her, the lawmaker fired her. Greene later dropped her lawsuit after the parties reached a private settlement.

Politico revealed last month that Farenthold used $84,000 from a congressional account for the settlement. The Office of Compliance account has been criticized as a slush fund enabling lawmakers to settle such claims with taxpayer funds. The Office of Compliance handles workplace complaints in Congress.

Other former Farenthold aides alleged he would make sexually graphic jokes in the office.

After the report came to light, Farenthold denied the allegations but acknowledged there was an “unprofessional” environment in his office. In a video message last month, he said he will not seek re-election at the conclusion of his current term.

What about the money?

Last month, shortly after the allegations came to light, Farenthold told KRIS-TV that he would reimburse taxpayers for the settlement.

However, over a month after the settlement came to light, Farenthold has yet to do so.

CNN reported that Stacey Daniels, Farenthold's communications director, said the lawmaker “has not yet written a check, and on the advice of counsel is waiting to see what changes the House will make to the Congressional Accountability Act before repaying those funds.”

The Center for Responsive Politics estimated Farenthold had a net worth of $5,789,824 as of 2015.

The news that Farenthold has yet to reimburse taxpayers comes the same day that former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith took the oath of office to replace former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after Franken resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

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