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Texas Congressman Used Taxpayer Money to Settle Harassment Claim

  • VOA News

FILE - House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin 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.

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim against him, Politico reported Friday. He is the first lawmaker to be revealed as having used Capitol Hill's "hush" fund.

The Republican congressman's former communications director, Lauren Greene, sued her boss in 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creating a hostile work environment, Politico said.

In a closed-door meeting Friday, House Administration Committee chairman Gregg Harper told lawmakers that an Office of Compliance account had been used to settle the accusation, and that the settlement had totaled $84,000.

Neither Farenthold nor Greene has commented on the Politico report, which cites a copy of a statement written but never released following the agreement.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. (L) responds to reporters after members of the House Democratic Caucus met on Capitol Hill in the wake of reports of sexual misconduct by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of the House, in Washington, Nov.
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. (L) responds to reporters after members of the House Democratic Caucus met on Capitol Hill in the wake of reports of sexual misconduct by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of the House, in Washington, Nov.

The hush fund was revealed to the American public recently as Representative John Conyers acknowledged he had reached a $27,000 settlement with a woman who formerly worked on his Washington staff and alleged Conyers fired her after she rebuffed a sexual advance from him.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Conyers used taxpayer money in his office funds to settle the case and whether he engaged in the sexual harassment of other women.

Congress on Wednesday introduced legislation that, if passed, would end the two-decade-old practice of paying settlements with taxpayer money. The Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act would require transparent disclosure of the nature of claims settled in the Office of Congressional Compliance.

Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

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