A Corpus Christi congressman got caught doing something bad: He dipped into a taxpayer fund to finance a settlement paid to a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment.
Blake Farenthold, a Republican, has done the right thing in response. He has pledged to take out a personal loan totaling $84,000 to repay what he took from the Office of Compliance fund.
At issue was a complaint filed by Lauren Greene, the congressman’s former communications director. Greene had alleged a hostile work environment, sexual discrimination and harassment against Farenthold, who then got taxpayer money to pay Greene off.
Farenthold denied doing anything wrong. Sure thing, young man. Whatever.
“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold said.
But the story here is that Farenthold is seeking to make it right by repaying the Office of Compliance fund. What’s more, he vows to “fix the system.”
Here’s an idea, Rep. Farenthold: Draft a bill that eliminates a certain provision contained in the Office of Compliance. The idea that taxpayer money would be used to finance these settlements is offensive on its face. Indeed, since 1997, the office has ponied up more than $17 million to settle various workplace complaints.
According to the Texas Tribune: “That account — and the elected officials using it — has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid a growing tide of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men.”
That “scrutiny” isn’t about to let up. Perhaps one possible reform could be to rid that office of the provision that pays these settlements regarding sexual harassment.
Are you in, Rep. Farenthold?