Former Rep. Blake Farenthold (Texas-R) responded on Wednesday to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's request for him to foot the bill for a special election to replace the seat he vacated last month.
Farenthold resigned April 6 following an investigation into a 2015 sexual misconduct suit that was settled using $84,000 in taxpayer funds.
In December, Farenthold announced his retirement and planned to complete his term, but changed his mind because of continued "bullying from many Democrats, the press, and trolls on social media," he said in his letter to Abbott.
What's the story?
Abbott asked Farenthold in a letter last week to pay for the "emergency" special election approved by Attorney General Ken Paxton. Hurricane Harvey directly hit Farenthold's district and is still trying to recover from the extensive damage, The Texas Tribune reported.
Farenthold initially said he would personally repay the taxpayer funds used to settle the suit with his former communications director, Lauren Greene, who claimed Farenthold created a vulgar and hostile work environment.
He has not repaid the money, citing the advice of his lawyers.
Similarly, Farenthold told Abbott in his letter that he would not be paying for the June 30 special election.
"Since I didn't call it and don't think it's necessary, I shouldn't be asked to pay for it," he wrote.
Farenthold wrote that his former office is operating and taking care of matters that need handling until his replacement is elected in November.
In his four-page letter, Farenthold said it would have appeared as a bribe if he had used his money to pay the settlement with Greene and denied any wrongful use of taxpayer funds.
Farenthold pointed to the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act that allows for payment of awards and settlements, adding that he was "unanimously exonerated" from claims that he sexually harassed or discriminated against Greene.
He said he has no intentions of funding the special election, adding that he would continue working to "protect and defend the Constitution, keep Texas red and make America great again."
What did Gov. Abbott say?
A spokeswoman for Abbott told the Tribune that Farenthold's decision was “disappointing,” but “it’s not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time.”
“While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we’re not closing the case on this issue,” Ciara Matthews, Abbott’s deputy communications director said.