A former Texas congressman had tried steering a federal contract to the owner of a business who gave him a $160,000-a-year job after the congressman resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, according to a newspaper investigation published Sunday.
Republican Blake Farenthold resigned in April amid bipartisan pressure over revelations that he used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a lawsuit brought by a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment. A month after leaving Congress, Farenthold was hired as the lobbyist for the Calhoun Port Authority on the Texas coast. His hiring was directed by port chairman Randy Boyd, who owns a dredging company called RLB Contracting and was a political donor to Farenthold.
Emails obtained by the Victoria Advocate show that Farenthold’s office arranged a meeting in May 2015 between Boyd and the Army Corps of Engineers about a government project. Federal officials took the meeting but declined working with Boyd’s company, citing ethical and environmental rules, after which Farenthold’s office followed up with the Corps by to see “if there is anything our office can do to be helpful (to the Corps) and Mr. Boyd.”
Boyd donated $5,000 to Farenthold’s campaign a day after the congressman’s office began arranging a meeting for him with the Corps, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Months after he resigned from Congress, former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is still blaming the #MeToo movement for the congressional investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed women in his office.
In an August 1 deposition over the recent lawsuit, a transcript of which was obtained and first reported by HuffPost, Farenthold says he “took a bullet for the team” by resigning from Congress. He blames the #MeToo movement, members of the media whom he calls “f tards,” as well as the House Ethics Committee for not caring about facts.
“I believe the public attention to the Me Too movement created a public environment where it would be much more difficult for the members of the Ethics Committee to separate politics from the facts,” Farenthold said, after being asked about previous comments where he had similarly blamed the movement.
Elsewhere in the deposition, he says that the committee was likely looking for a “scapegoat” and believes the entire investigation was a witch hunt.
He also said “f tards” — whom he defines as “A-S-S-E-S” and people in the media — for the investigation into his harassment of women who worked in his office.
Farenthold said he hasn’t paid the government back the $84,000 he used to settle a private lawsuit because his lawyers told him not to. “I can’t legally repay the government to do that,” he said. “I have been advised by multiple attorneys I cannot do that even if I wanted to.”
When further pressed on why he hadn’t donated a similar sum to a charity that works on sexual harassment issues, as he had previously promised to do, Farenthold again said that his lawyers told him not to. He said he was worried about “legislation pending in Congress” targeting sexual offenders in Congress that could authorize the government to take the money from his retirement plan.
“So your concern was that you might have to pay back the 84,000 twice, once back to the taxpayers and also to a nonprofit?” John Griffin, attorney for the Virginia advocate, asks him.
“Yes, sir,” Farenthold responds.
As HuffPost noted, the legislation Farenthold is referring to hasn’t moved forward in Congress, and neither the bill in the Senate or the House would affect him anyway. Only the House version would allow the government to pull the funds from a lawmaker’s Social Security or retirement plan, and it does not apply to past cases.
I take it back. Calling Blake Farenthold a toad is unfair to toads, who have done nothing to deserve such an insult. The bottom line here is don’t be like Blake Farenthold.