Members of Congress and government watchdogs are questioning why a little-known House agency used taxpayer funds to investigate a sexual harassment complaint involving Rep. Blake Farenthold's office previous year, and then failed to make the results public.
Blake Farenthold is facing an ethics investigation amid multiple accusations of misconduct from former aides.
House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Farenthold's decision not to run for re-election, telling reporters the congressman was "making the right decision to retire".
Farenthold, in his video announcement, again denied Greene's allegations of sexual harassment but said he was choosing not to run because the issue had become "a political distraction".
"I'd never served in public office before". He said Farenthold was doing the right thing by stepping aside and retiring. He also said he allowed a permissive and unprofessional work environment "to take root" in his office. There are new stories that are very disconcerting. "That's not why I came to Congress", Farenthold said in a video on his campaign's Facebook page.
Farenthold's former communications director told CNN Wednesday that the congressman made crude sexual remarks, while another former staffer said Farenthold regularly called staffers "f--tards".
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Rekola told CNN that Farenthold verbally abused him and made demeaning comments about his then fiancée before his wedding, treatment that led him to seek medical attention.
"While I 100 percent support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question", he said in a statement. ABC News has not confirmed his specific allegations.
Farenthold would not confirm that the $84,000 payment, from a Treasury Department fund used to settle workplace complaints against lawmakers, was from his office.
The lawsuit by former Farenthold aide Lauren Greene alleged the congressman had discussed his sexual fantasies about her and said at a staff meeting that a lobbyist had propositioned him for a threesome.
The Texas Republican appeared determined to weather the storm, but the allegations kept coming. His name could be removed from the ballot if there is a challenge to the candidate application before the mail-in ballots go out.