Rep. Blake Farenthold (R., Texas) used taxpayer funds for a $84,000 settlement with his communications director in 2014, according to a new report.
Former communications director Lauren Greene filed a lawsuit in 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creating a hostile work environment, Politico reported Friday.
In the lawsuit, Greene claimed another Farenthold aide told her the congressman had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about his communications director. Her complaint further alleged he "regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke they had to be on ‘red head patrol to keep him out of trouble.'" After Greene initially complained about Farenthold's comments, she claimed she was improperly fired.
The Texas representative responded in a statement in which he said he is prohibited from commenting on the lawsuit.
"While I 100 percent support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question," he said.
A joint statement drafted by the congressman and Greene, obtained by Politico but never released following the 2014 settlement, said the deal was reached to "save taxpayer dollars" from further litigation.The statement includes a denial from Farenthold over Greene's allegations, and requires all parties "deny all liability," according to Politico.
The statement added: "The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial."
The statement also states that Farenthold "disagrees strongly" with his client’s allegations and "adamantly denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing." It says the settlement included a confidentiality agreement that precludes Greene and Farenthold from discussing the case and "expressly provides that both parties deny all liability."
The office of Congressional Ethics investigated the allegations against Farenthold but said "there is no substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against" Greene.