Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Someone needs to sue Blake Farenthold

That’s my response to this.

Blake Farenthold

Four months after U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold promised to repay an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement funded by taxpayers — and 11 days after the Republican resigned his Corpus Christi seat — he has yet to write a check. And with Farenthold out of public office and increasingly out of the public eye, there’s little anyone can do to force him.

Farenthold pledged last winter to personally repay the cash paid out by the federal government to a former staffer, Lauren Greene, who sued him for sexual harassment in 2014. When news of the settlement surfaced in December, Farenthold told a local TV station he’d reimburse the money that same week, saying “I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for this.” In January, he said he would wait to repay the money after seeing what changes Congress would make to policies around the issue, saying he wanted to seek legal counsel.

Then, he resigned abruptly on April 6 — days before the House Ethics Committee, which was investigating his misconduct, would have released its findings in his case, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has led efforts to reform Congress’s sexual harassment complaint process. After leaving public office, he immediately shut down his social media accounts and went silent. Requests for comment to his former staff were not returned.

The House committee no longer has jurisdiction to investigate Farenthold, though its members called on him “in the strongest possible terms” to return the money. But there’s no legal avenue to force Farenthold to repay the money — meaning the only option is “public shame,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“He does not seem like someone who is easily shamed,” Libowitz said. “When this came to light, he said that he would pay it back, then started looking for more and more reasons to delay the payment. It became pretty clear that if he wasn’t forced to pay it back — which legally he’s not required to — he didn’t seem all that interested in it.”

See here and here for the background. The story doesn’t even mention the possibility of a lawsuit, so I could be completely out to lunch here – as we well know, I Am Not A Lawyer. All I can say is that some crazier lawsuits than what I am suggesting have gotten traction in the courts lately, so why not take a shot at it? Surely there’s a taxpayer out there with some time on their hands and the desire to throw a little sand in Blake Farenthold’s gears.

Related Posts:

7 Comments

  1. General Grant says:

    Lawsuit won’t work. For one, he had no legal obligation to pay. Second, nobody would have the sort of “individualized harm” to have standing to sue.

    The answer is to change the law to force future Farentholds to pay. I’m not holding my breath.

  2. penwyth says:

    Very Republican move by Farenthold.

    Of course, the Republicans in leadership are going to do diddly squat.

  3. Joel says:

    Where did the money come from, and was this an expected or even legal use?

    If illegal use, repayment isn’t the issue and it shouldn’t take a lawsuit. But if the money came from donors, wouldn’t they have “individual standing”?

  4. Jules says:

    I think the money came from the federal gvt. I doubt ducky jammies has the money, a lawsuit would be a waste.

  5. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    Well, Farenthold’s net worth is estimated in the seven figure range, so while it might bite, he can afford to cover $84K.
    It’s just unlikely that any individual can make an actionable claim to force him to pony it up.

    The funds came from appropriated money in the federal budget set aside to cover legal entanglements for Congresscritters. In theory, there could be some sort of reimbursement provision for the use of that money, but apparently the decision-makers in Congress don’t think they have that authority at this point in the process.

  6. C.L. says:

    So much swamp, so little draining.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    First, I agree, there needs to be some mechanism available to make these dirtbags, who got the taxpayers to pay for their bad behavior, reimburse the taxpayers. As far as swamp draining, I thing we are seeing an inordinate number of incumbents that are not seeking re-election, on both sides of the aisle. Personally, I’m thrilled to see Jeff Flake and Paul Ryan just go, as examples.

    Hopefully the OIG report coming out will send a bunch more folks packing too.