Report: Barton Set Up Legal Defense Fund to Deal With Nude Photo Fallout

Texas Republican congressman is retiring at the end of this term

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, got approval from the House Ethics Committee to set up a legal defense fund for expenses for “matters bearing on his reputation or fitness for office.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Joe Barton set up a legal defense fund earlier this summer after a nude photo of himself that he sent to a woman was leaked last year. 

Documents show Barton set up the fund in June after the House Ethics Committee gave him permission to do so for expenses regarding “official duties and position in Congress, and matters bearing on his reputation or fitness for office,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

The documents also said it could cover costs “incurred in connection with incidents described in news articles and any questions with respect to the propriety of your conduct.” 

Barton’s spokesman said on Friday that the “fund was created because this is the proper method to be in the strictest compliance with House Ethics rules.”

The photo of Barton was leaked in November of last year and was sent while he was married to his second wife.

The story broke as the #MeToo movement was peaking on Capitol Hill, but Barton at the time said he was “not guilty of sexual harassment” and his relationship with the woman was consensual. He announced later that month that he would not seek re-election. 

“There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th District in Washington,” he said at the time.

The documents show the legal fund paid for a $12,500 his campaign made to public relations firm Dodd Communications that it hired during the controversy. The campaign made the payment in January.

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