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Rep. Farenthold Won't Seek Re-election Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

  • VOA News

FILE - House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 3, 2017.

U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold, the target of sexual harassment allegations, will not seek re-election in 2018, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"I think he's making the right decision to retire," Ryan said Thursday on Capitol Hill. "There are new stories that are very disconcerting."

The Texas Republican lawmaker has denied engaging in any inappropriate behavior and has said he plans to stay in office for the remainder of his term.

Farenthold is the fourth lawmaker whose career has been derailed in the last two weeks because of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Last week, two Democratic lawmakers, Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers, resigned over such allegations. Republican lawmaker Trent Franks was forced out by Speaker Ryan after a staffer complained Franks offered her $5 million to carry his child as a surrogate.

With $84,000 in taxpayer money, Farenthold settled a lawsuit that was filed in 2014 by Lauren Greene, a former communications director in Farenthold's office, who alleged Farenthold sexually harassed her and dismissed her shortly after complaining of working in a hostile environment. When he settled the case in 2015, Farenthold denied he engaged in inappropriate behavior.

Word of Farenthold's decision not to seek re-election comes as the House Ethics Committee expands an investigation into his behavior toward Greene and allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from other former staff members.

More than a dozen women have renewed charges first made last year that President Donald Trump sexually harassed them before he entered the White House, prompting 50 female congresswomen to call earlier this week for an investigation or that he resign. Six senators, five Democrats and one independent, called for Trump's resignation this week in the face of the allegations.