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Congressman to resign after allegedly sexually harassing staff and calling them “fucktards”

Rep. Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, will not seek re-election in 2018 and instead retire at the end of his term, a local ABC News affiliate reported Thursday, following multiple allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by former staffers.

by Alexa Liautaud
Dec 14 2017, 2:15pm

Rep. Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, will not seek re-election in 2018 and instead retire at the end of his term, a local ABC News affiliate reported Thursday, following multiple allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by former staffers.

The House Ethics Committee unanimously decided on Dec. 7 to investigate claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, and inappropriate comments against Farenthold, reviewing more than 200,000 pages of material and interviewing several witnesses. Farenthold was sued over sexual harassment in 2014 by his former communications director and used $84,000 of taxpayer funds to settle the case.

Farenthold denied allegations in a Skype call with his constituents Wednesday, saying: “I just want to let everyone know, I absolutely did not engage in any improper conduct.”

Still, several other staffers have come forward with stories of abuse and bullying by the congressmen.

Michael Rekola, Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, said in an interview with CNN that Farenthold told him, "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time,” just before Rekola was leaving town to get married.

"I was disgusted and I left. I walked out," Rekola said, adding that Farenthold would regularly call his aides “fucktards.”

Farenthold’s graphic comments forced Rekola to seek counseling and medical treatment, he said.

The allegations come as the topic of sexual harassment sweeps Congress. Farenthold was reportedly pressured by House Speaker Paul Ryan in several meetings to resign, after Ryan has been on a mission to stop Congress from using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims.