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Dogged By Sexual Misconduct Claims, Farenthold Slogs Ahead in Texas

Texas GOP delegation remains tight-lipped about support of congressman’s fifth-term bid

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has carried on his re-election campaign amid a sexual misconduct controversy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has carried on his re-election campaign amid a sexual misconduct controversy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Blake Farenthold signaled Monday he intends to slog ahead with his re-election campaign against the storm of sexual misconduct claims against him, the Texas Tribune reported.

The fourth-term Lone Star State Republican, 56, will face a crowded GOP primary to keep his 27th District seat, with five challengers declaring they’ll take him on.

Other Republicans in the Texas delegation have remained mostly silent, preferring not to publicly stone one of their own, even if privately they wish the badgering questions from reporters could just go away, according to the Tribune report.

“It’s lonelier than it’s been in past times, but he’s not alone,” Farenthold’s chief of staff, Bob Haueter, said Monday evening.

Farenthold’s campaign committee reported just over $200,000 cash on hand at the end of the last fundraising quarter, per FEC filings.

Texas GOP operatives predict his fundraising could stall as the wave of negative press washes over and that it’s unlikely his Republican colleagues would buoy his campaign as they normally would to protect an incumbent, the Tribune reported.

The controversy surrounding Farenthold originates from a Dec. 1 Politico report that he settled for $84,000 with a former employee over sexual harassment claims using taxpayer money.

The House Office of Congressional Ethics said recently it would take another look at those allegations after it had advised the House Ethics Committee to dismiss any charges against Farenthold in 2014. 

Farenthold denied the accusations levied against him in the case and promised to pay back the sum in full.

The following week, the Houston Chronicle reported that Farenthold’s entire staff underwent sexual misconduct training in 2016 after he was accused of gender discrimination.

Farenthold’s spokeswoman, Stacey Daniels released a statement Tuesday describing the series of events that led to the sexual misconduct training:

In 2016, a female employee told the Member that the Chief of Staff, Bob Haueter, treated the female staff differently in the office. A second employee subsequently reported to Mr. Haueter that the employee complaining of potentially gender-based treatment did, herself, engage in inappropriate sexualized commentary in the workplace. In response, the office brought in an independent investigative team on the advice of House Employment Counsel to conduct an internal investigation of these concerns. The investigation resulted in the first complaining employee admitting her problem with Mr. Haueter was based on a personality conflict, and not any gender bias. With regard to the second complaint, the investigators did not find corroboration of the alleged sexualized comments attributed to the complaining employee. Regardless of the finding that there was no evidence of gender bias, or inappropriate sexualized comments by office personnel, the Member and the entire staff took sensitivity and harassment training to ensure full compliance with office policy and the law.

The New York Times released a salacious exposé yesterday detailing an office atmosphere clouded with sexual innuendo, flirtation, and their age-old catalyst, excessive drinking.

Aides often began happy hour as early as 4:30 p.m., which they jokingly called “beer-thirty.”

Four Democrats have entered the race to unseat Farenthold, though it is unlikely they will put up a fight in the general election.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 27th District Solid Republican.

Farenthold still has the backing of many current and past employees, who released a letter saying their boss had always treated them “fairly” and “with dignity and respect.”

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