In a move surprising absolutely no one, former Rep. Blake Farenthold has announced he won't pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, ABC News reports.
The Texas Republican, who resigned in disgrace in early April, already found a cushy job as a lobbyist with the Calhoun Port Authority, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. He will earn an annual salary of $160,000 — just $14,000 less than what he was making in Congress.
When the allegations against him first surfaced last year, Farenthold said he would repay taxpayers. But several months later, and despite his new well-paying job, he's changed his tune.
“I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,” Farenthold told ABC News. “That’s why it hasn’t been repaid.”
He is one of several male members of Congress who have stepped down in recent months due to allegations of sexual misconduct. In late 2014, the Republican's former communications director sued him on grounds of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creating a hostile work environment. She alleged she was fired after she complained about being harassed by Farenthold. After settling the case, the woman received the $84,000 payout.
He denies the allegations and has refused to apologize.
Other than the sexual harassment allegations against him, Farenthold has been awful to women in other occasions. For example, you might remember him for blaming his female Republican colleagues for failing to pass the GOP's healthcare bill and suggesting that if they weren't women, he would duel them "Aaron-Burr-style."
Farenthold's refusal to pay back taxpayers has been made possible by the archaic way Congress deals with sexual harassment.
That situation could be fixed by passing a bipartisan bill reforming the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, which would drastically change the sexual harassment complaint process in Congress. Among other steps, the legislation would require members of Congress to repay settlements within 90 days.
It's been 98 days since the House passed the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, because he reportedly has issues with holding individual members of Congress financially responsible for settlements involving sexual harassment and discrimination.
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