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You’ve never seen Smokey Joe quite like this before

Oh my bleeping God.

Rep. Joe Barton

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.

In a phone interview with The Texas Tribune on Tuesday, Barton said he was deliberating that.

“You’re as aware of what was posted as I am,” he said. “I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly.”

A spokeswoman for Barton said Wednesday that he had no plans to resign and had filed for re-election.

If for some reason you have to know more about this, there’s a censored image at Juanita‘s place. I warn you, censored or not, you will never be able to un-see it.

There’s an infinite number of jokes waiting to be made about this, and Barton will hear all of them for the rest of his life. That said, I don’t believe anyone should be shamed simply for having had nude photos taken of themselves or for sharing them in a consensual manner. That first story clearly paints Barton as a victim. This followup story muddies the water a little.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, who apologized Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that circulated on the Internet, told a woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages that he would report her to the Capitol Police if she exposed his behavior, according to a recording reviewed by The Washington Post.

The woman spoke to The Post after the lewd photo was published Tuesday by an anonymous Twitter account. She shared a secretly recorded phone conversation she had with Barton in 2015 in which he warned her against using the explicit materials “in a way that would negatively affect my career.”

The woman described encounters and contact spanning a five-year period that began online after she posted a message on Barton’s Facebook page in 2011, leading to the sexually explicit exchanges and ultimately a pair of physical sexual encounters in Washington and Texas. Over time, she said, she became aware of and corresponded with multiple other women who engaged in relationships with Barton, who represents a suburban Dallas district and is one of the most senior Republicans in the House.

The woman, who is not married, spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy.

In the 2015 phone call, Barton confronted the woman over her communications with the other women, including her decision to share explicit materials he had sent. In that context, he mentioned the Capitol Police, a comment the woman interpreted as an attempt to intimidate her.

“I want your word that this ends,” he said, according to the recording, adding: “I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation. And if I do that, that hurts me potentially big time.”

“Why would you even say that to me?” the woman responded. “… The Capitol Hill police? And what would you tell them, sir?”

Said Barton: “I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn’t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That’s the truth.”

In a statement late Wednesday, Barton said a transcript of the recording provided by The Post may be “evidence” of a “potential crime against me.”

He said that he received word Wednesday that the Capitol Police are opening an inquiry. While there is no federal law prohibiting the disclosure of intimate photos of adults without consent, the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday reported that the Twitter photo of Barton could violate a 2015 Texas law banning so-called “revenge porn,” which is the portrayal of another person’s intimate body parts and distributing the images without consent.

“This woman admitted that we had a consensual relationship,” Barton said. “When I ended that relationship, she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence in retaliation. As the transcript reflects, I offered to take the matter to the Capitol Hill Police to open an investigation. Today, the Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted. Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment.”

The woman said she never had any intention to use the materials to retaliate against Barton.

At this point, I’m going to wait and see what if anything else comes out about this. Barton is a terrible Congressman, but so far it doesn’t look like he’s done anything wrong. It’s embarrassing, sure, but it’s embarrassing because the photos were released without Barton’s knowledge or consent. That’s wrong when it happens to anyone, including Joe Barton.

Last word, from the first story:

Jana Lynne Sanchez, a Democrat running for Barton’s seat, said in a statement that there was a “larger issue” than Barton’s personal life at play.

“Texans, just like all American people, are tired of poor behavior of elected officials distracting us from the real issues affecting us – the unbearable cost of healthcare, the poor and sliding quality of public education and the lack of good jobs for our high school graduates,” Sanchez said. “No matter who the Republican nominee is, I look forward to a civil and respectful campaign on the issues – not one sullied by personal attacks.”

Amen to that. You can learn more about Jana Lynne Sanchez here. The DMN, the Current, RG Ratcliffe, and Daily Kos have more.

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5 Comments

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  2. neither here nor there says:

    The new Republican Christian person of the year.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    “….but so far it doesn’t look like he’s done anything wrong. It’s embarrassing, sure, but it’s embarrassing because the photos were released without Barton’s knowledge or consent. That’s wrong when it happens to anyone, including Joe Barton.”

    Fair assessment. Looks like Joe is a victim here, in addition to using poor judgement in his personal life.

  4. neither here nor there says:

    One sends unsolicited porn of themselves, and they are the victim, must be Republican logic.

  5. Flypusher says:

    It’s certainly the right of any adult to take naked pictures of themselves, but I look at the risk-reward ratio and can only ask why does anyone ever think that it would be a good idea? It’s almost never a good idea.

    NOT going to visit Jaunita’s for this story.

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