Former Rep. Blake Farenthold said he will not pay for the special election to fill his seat.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for Farenthold to pay for his own election last week. The Texas Republican left Congress over revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The former lawmaker should use the $84,000 he’s not returning to taxpayers to fund the election for the Corpus Christi seat, Abbott said.
Farenthold said he will not pay for the special election because he doesn’t believe it is called for.
“Since I didn’t call it and don’t think it’s necessary, I shouldn’t be asked to pay for it,” the Texas Republican said.
Ciara Matthews, deputy communications director for Abbott, told CNN Farenthold’s decision is “disappointing.”
“It’s not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time,” she said in a statement. “While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we’re not closing the case on this issue.”
Farenthold resigned April 6 amid an Ethics Committee probe into the congressman and his office for alleged sexual harassment, inappropriate comments to staff, and discrimination based on gender.
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.
Farenthold has not yet followed through on that promise.
Three candidates who are competing in their party’s primary for the general election in November have already said they will file for the special election.
Republicans Bech Bruun, a Texas Water Development Board chairman, and Michael Cloud, a former county GOP chairman, told the Texas Tribune they will file to run.
Democrat Eric Holguin, who faces Raul “Roy” Barrera in the May 22 runoff, will join them on the ballot.
The 27th District is expected to remain in GOP hands this cycle. President Donald Trump carried the district by 23 points in 2016.
Griffin Connolly contributed reporting.