Disgraced ex-Texas congressman takes lucrative lobbying post
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former Republican U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold has accepted a lucrative position lobbying for a port in his ex-Texas district — mere weeks after resigning in disgrace amid fallout from using public funds to settle a past sexual harassment complaint.
The Calhoun Port Authority announced Monday that Farenthold would promote its interests in Washington and assist “in resolving funding issues.”
“Blake has always been a strong supporter of the Calhoun Port Authority and is familiar with the issues facing the port,” it said in a statement. Port Director Charles R. Hausmann said Farenthold’s annual salary will be $160,000.
The port is located in the Gulf Coast community of Point Comfort, an area hit by Hurricane Harvey last summer.
A former Farenthold congressional staffer didn’t return messages seeking comment Monday, but the ex-congressman himself told radio station KKTX that he’d taken a job about a 90-minute drive from his home in Corpus Christi.
Farenthold abruptly quit Congress on April 6, as the House Ethics Committee investigated his using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle an ex-staffer’s 2014 sexual harassment claim.
Farenthold at first denied wrongdoing when he settled a lawsuit in which a former communications aide accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation. He eventually pledged to reimburse the money — but still hasn’t.
The ethics committee’s chairman and ranking member later revealed that the panel had been scheduled to vote on the matter but instead was ending its work because Farenthold resigned.
Still, Reps. Susan Brooks, an Indiana Republican, and Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, had pointed words for Farenthold, who was first elected in 2010.
“We note Representative Farenthold publicly promised to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for $84,000 in funds paid to settle the lawsuit brought against him,” Brooks and Deutch said in a statement April 12. “We encourage him in the strongest possible terms to uphold that promise.”
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called a June 30 special election to fill the remainder of Farenthold’s term, which expires early next year. Abbott urged Farenthold to put $84,000 toward the cost of that election, even though it wouldn’t be enough to fully pay for it.
Farenthold flatly refused.
“Since I didn’t call it and don’t think it’s necessary, I shouldn’t be asked to pay for it,” he wrote in a May 2 letter to the governor.