Congress

Blake Farenthold Leaves Lobbying Gig Amid Lawsuit Over His Hiring

Disgraced former congressman hired less than two months after resigning amid ethics probe

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has resigned from his lobbying job amid a lawsuit surrounding his hiring for it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold has resigned from the lobbying gig he secured last May with a local port authority in Texas, as the port battles a lawsuit from a local newspaper over the ex-GOP congressman's hiring.

The Victoria Advocate first reported this story.

In his resignation letter, Farenthold wrote that he had made “significant progress” lobbying on behalf of the Calhoun Port Authority.

“When I accepted this position, which was offered to me, we all knew this would be a 2-2½ year process,” Farenthold wrote in his resignation letter. “While I would like to see my work on these issues come to a successful conclusion, being a full-time employee of the Port Authority prevents me from pursuing other interests and opportunities.”

Farenthold wrote that he wants to help the port, in a non-employee capacity, “when it becomes legal and ethical.”

Citing the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Victoria Advocate sued the port last year for failing to announce to the public its intention to hire Farenthold in mid-May of 2018, less than two months after he resigned in disgrace from Congress.

Farenthold resigned last April right before an Ethics subcommittee was expected to release a report on the congressman and his office for alleged sexual harassment, inappropriate comments to staff, and discrimination based on gender.

ICYMI: Farenthold Resigns from Congress

When media reports surfaced in December that Farenthold’s office had paid a former employee an $84,000 settlement over such claims, he promised to reimburse the Treasury Department fund that covers member offices' labor and workplace disputes.

Instead, he spent most of his leftover campaign funds on legal expenses, hotel stays, and even an $860 cocktail party, per the Federal Elections Commission database.

Farenthold's departure is a good first step toward the port rectifying its legal mistakes hiring — and then later declining to fire — the former congressman, said John Griffin, the Advocate's attorney in its lawsuit.

But the port should have taken action earlier, Griffin told the Advocate, estimating that the port has already paid Farenthold more than $105,000 of his $160,000 salary and spent dozens of thousands more on legal fees stemming from its court battle.

“He was not hired lawfully in the first place,” Griffin said. “While it’s good that Mr. Farenthold apparently realized the illegality of his hiring, it’s unfortunate that the port did not terminate him months ago.”

 

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