Politics

Embattled Farenthold Won’t Seek Re-election in 2018

Congressman has been subject of renewed Ethics Committee probe

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, leaves the Capitol following the final votes of the week on Thursday. Farenthold announced he will not seek reelection amid sexual harassment allegations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:50 p.m. | Facing renewed allegations of misconduct, Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold will not seek re-election in 2018, he announced Thursday. 

The embattled Republican congressman plans to serve out the rest of his term and is not resigning.

Farenthold met Wednesday with Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Speaker Paul D. Ryan also spoke with Farenthold twice late Wednesday, according to a House GOP source. 

“I think he’s making the right decision that he is going to be leaving Congress,” Ryan said at his Thursday press conference. 

Farenthold’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment. 

Ryan: Farenthold Leaving Congress Is ‘Right Decision’

The House Ethics Committee last week voted to establish a subcommittee to continue investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against the Republican lawmaker.

The Office of Compliance already paid $84,000 to settle a harassment claim tied to Farenthold’s office. The congressman later said he would would pay the money back to the government

Farenthold denied wrongdoing in that case in a video statement posted to his Facebook page Thursday. But he apologized for creating an environment in his congressional office that accommodated “off-color jokes and behavior in general that was less than professional.”

“I had no idea how to run a congressional office,” he said. “I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and too often, a failure to treat people with the respect they deserved.”

CNN reported Wednesday that a male former senior staffer has approached the Ethics Committee with reports of the congressman being verbally abusive and sexually demeaning. 

“I respect Congressman Farenthold’s decision and thank him for his service,” Stivers said in a statement Thursday.“Congress must work harder to hold ourselves to a higher standard, which is why the House took action to ensure this body is a safe and constructive workplace for all. However, there is still more work to be done,” he added.

Fellow Texas Rep. Roger Williams endorsed one of Farenthold’s most prominent primary challengers, former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun, on Wednesday. The filing deadline was Monday, so it’s too late for other candidates to get on the ballot.

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

Watch: Former Congresswomen Reflect on Sexual Harassment Issues

Lindsey McPherson and Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report. 

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