Farenthold’s Ship Comes In

Disgraced former congressman will not pay money back to taxpayers

Former Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold has yet to pay back the $84,000 the government spent to settle a sexual harassment complaint after promising that he would. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned in disgrace a month ago amid a sexual harassment scandal, has a new job.

The former Republican congressman told the “Lago in the Morning” talk show that he would be working for the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.

“I’m starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute,” Farenthold told the show. “You’re gonna have me listening and calling in a whole lot now.”

As the legislative liaison for the port, Farenthold will earn a salary of $160,000.10, slightly less than his congressional salary of $174,000.

“Blake has always been a strong supporter of the Calhoun Port Authority and is familiar with the issues facing the Port,” a statement read. “The Board looks forward to the services Blake can provide in assisting the Port with matters in Washington, D.C.”

Farenthold resigned from Congress last month after reports emerged that the Treasury Department paid $84,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against him.

The congressman said at the time that he would repay the money to cover the settlement to the federal government but so far has not done so.

But in an interview with ABC on Tuesday, Farenthold said he would not pay the money back despite saying he would.

"I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that," he said. "That’s why it hasn’t been repaid."

This comes despite the fact House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he expected Farenthold to return the money.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wanted Farenthold to foot the bill for a special election to replace him, but Farenthold refused.

Nueces County’s portion of the special election is expected to cost $125,000, according to an estimate by the county clerk’s office.

Port Director Charles Hausmann told the Caller-Times that Farenthold’s position is new but would not say if it was the result of a closed-session discussion last week.

Former members of Congress are prohibited from acting as lobbyists for at least one year after leaving office, but there is no prohibition on them taking a similar role if employed by government agencies like the port authority.

Emily Martin, general counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, told the Victoria Advocate newspaper in Texas that Farenthold’s new employer should take steps to protect the women he will be working with.

“Hopefully, that very real threat of liability will lead the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort to make sure that he does not have the opportunity to harass others, which means that those who came forward with complaints about his past behavior will have had a real impact and protected others by sharing their story,” she told the newspaper.

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