Months after he resigned from Congress, former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is still blaming the #MeToo movement for the congressional investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed women in his office.
Farenthold resigned from Congress in April, after being sued for sexual harassment of a former aide and then using $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle the lawsuit. Now, he could be out of a job again if a lawsuit against the Texas port authority where he’s currently working prevails. The Virginia Advocate, a local newspaper, says the port authority did not give proper notice about Farenthold’s new position, a $160,000 per year job lobbying his former colleagues in Congress.
Farenthold is still convinced he did nothing wrong.
In an August 1 deposition over the recent lawsuit, a transcript of which was obtained and first reported by HuffPost, Farenthold says he “took a bullet for the team” by resigning from Congress. He blames the #MeToo movement, members of the media whom he calls “f tards,” as well as the House Ethics Committee for not caring about facts.
“I believe the public attention to the Me Too movement created a public environment where it would be much more difficult for the members of the Ethics Committee to separate politics from the facts,” Farenthold said, after being asked about previous comments where he had similarly blamed the movement.
Elsewhere in the deposition, he says that the committee was likely looking for a “scapegoat” and believes the entire investigation was a witch hunt.
He also said “f tards” — whom he defines as “A-S-S-E-S” and people in the media — for the investigation into his harassment of women who worked in his office.
Farenthold said he hasn’t paid the government back the $84,000 he used to settle a private lawsuit because his lawyers told him not to. “I can’t legally repay the government to do that,” he said. “I have been advised by multiple attorneys I cannot do that even if I wanted to.”
When further pressed on why he hadn’t donated a similar sum to a charity that works on sexual harassment issues, as he had previously promised to do, Farenthold again said that his lawyers told him not to. He said he was worried about “legislation pending in Congress” targeting sexual offenders in Congress that could authorize the government to take the money from his retirement plan.
“So your concern was that you might have to pay back the 84,000 twice, once back to the taxpayers and also to a nonprofit?” John Griffin, attorney for the Virginia advocate, asks him.
“Yes, sir,” Farenthold responds.
As HuffPost noted, the legislation Farenthold is referring to hasn’t moved forward in Congress, and neither the bill in the Senate or the House would affect him anyway. Only the House version would allow the government to pull the funds from a lawmaker’s Social Security or retirement plan, and it does not apply to past cases.
Farenthold resigned from Congress before the House Ethics Committee ruled on the investigation into his behavior. The office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) told HuffPost earlier this year that he got a heads-up from the committee about its imminent decision, and then stepped down.
Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director, sued the congressman in December 2014 for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a hostile workplace.
Greene said that Farenthold told an assistant that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her and he acted inappropriately toward her and other women in his office. She told Politico that her decision to accuse Farenthold of sexual harassment has negatively affected her career in politics and communications.