Ethics investigators struck a blow Monday to an ex-House staffer’s sexual harassment claims against Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, nine months after the fired communications director filed suit in District of Columbia court.
The Office of Congressional Ethics did not find substantial reason to believe Farenthold, 53, sexually harassed Lauren Greene, discriminated against her on the basis of her gender, or retaliated against her for complaining about the alleged unlawful treatment. In accordance with public disclosure rules, the House Ethics Committee shared the OCE’s findings and announced it had not yet completed its own review of the matter. Attorneys from another House entity, the Office of House Employment, are defending Farenthold against Greene’s accusations that the congressman discussed “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her with another one of his employees. Farenthold’s office has admitted the former talk radio host occasionally complimented Greene on her appearance, but denied making improper advances.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the lawsuit, the Committee has not yet been able to complete its review of the matter and therefore is not in a position to dismiss the matter at this time,” Chairman Charlie Dent, R-Pa., and ranking member Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., said in a joint statement. “The Committee will continue its review and ultimately will take any additional action it deems necessary, consistent with the House and Committee rules.”
Greene, who has relocated to South Carolina, is asking for back pay and monetary compensation for emotional damages suffered because of “hostile treatment” during the 17 months she worked in Farenthold’s office.
“Congressman Farenthold understands the position that House Ethics is in and is certain that once the legal nature of this situation is resolved, they will reach the same findings and conclusions that the Office of Congressional Ethics has already unanimously reached,” a Farenthold spokesman told CQ Roll Call.
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