One month after promising to swiftly repay the federal treasury for the money it shelled out to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former aide, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold has now decided to hold off.
"On advice of counsel, Congressman Farenthold is waiting to see what changes the House makes to the Congressional Accountability Act before repaying the funds," the lawmaker's aide said Wednesday.
Farenthold has said current rules under the Accountability Act do not allow him to repay the government.
The disclosure in early December that the lawsuit filed by ex-communications director Lauren Greene was settled with an $84,000 payment with taxpayers' money set off a chain of events that led to the unraveling of Farenthold's political career.
When he promised to "hand a check" for the amount for delivery to the treasury, Farenthold was still hoping to survive the scandal that had mushroomed in the wake of new disclosures by sexual misconduct that derailed careers in the worlds of politics, media and entertainment.
Earlier, the Corpus Christi Republican had filed for a fifth term in Washington. But several challengers, both from his own party and from the Democrats, also had filed for the seat.
Several prominent figures in Congress were calling for his resignation, and one fellow Texas Republican – U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Weatherford – endorsed one of his opponents. Finally, in mid-December, Farenthold announced he was quitting his re-election bid but would serve out the remainder of his term.
John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at John.Moritz@caller.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.