Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2018 after sexual images he shared with a woman who was not his wife surfaced last week.
Barton told the Dallas Morning News that he will not run for an 18th term, despite announcing three weeks ago that he would do so. The lawmaker said the reason for his decision is that the people of Texas have lost faith in him, and so he called for the state's sixth district to have a "new voice" in Washington.
"I've always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I've been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas," Barton said. "There are enough people who lost faith in me that it's time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the sixth district in Washington, so I am not going to run for reelection."
Barton was not accused of sexual harassment, but lewd images of himself did surface on Twitter, causing embarrassment as well as further scrutiny of his other extramarital relationships. He defended his relationships as consensual in a statement, and he apologized for poor judgment.
"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," Barton said last week. "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."
Barton said Thursday that he still has support in his district but would prefer not to campaign given the aspects of his personal life that are now public.
"It would be a nasty campaign, a difficult campaign for my family," he said.
Sarah Dodd of Dodd Communications was helping Barton respond to the images and said last week that their release is an invasion of privacy. Specifically, the malicious release of such an image could constitute "revenge porn," when sexually explicit images are posted online without consent, which is illegal in Texas and Washington, D.C.
Barton confirmed last week that he told a former girlfriend not to release any images of him or else he would contact the police, adding that it would qualify as a crime. On Thursday, he reiterated that he is a victim of revenge porn and said the matter is being investigated, although he does not believe he knows the person who put the images on Twitter.