Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, used more than $80,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former staffer, Politico reported.
Lauren Greene worked as Farenthold’s communications director and sued the congressman in 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, according to Politico.
When the case was settled in 2015, Farenthold said he didn’t engage in any wrongdoing. Neither Greene’s lawyer nor Farenthold confirmed whether she was the recipient of an apparent $84,000 payout from an Office of Compliance account.
In the past five years, the Office of Compliance only paid funds to settle one sexual harassment claim, it said in a letter. That settlement was $84,000.
Farenthold, 55, said in a statement that he could not confirm or deny that he used the little-known congressional account to settle a sexual harassment claim, citing the Congressional Accountability Act.
Greene began to work for Farenthold in 2013 and was fired in July 2014, according to Politico. She alleged that Farenthold and his top aide sexually harassed her. She also said that Farenthold told other staffers that he had sexual fantasies about her.
Greene sued Farenthold, and the two later settled for an undisclosed amount.
“[A]fter it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved – including the taxpayers – the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” said a joint statement that was never released.
“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,” they said.
Farenthold also included in the statement that he “disagrees strongly” with the claims made against him.
The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended in 2015 that the House Ethics Committee dismiss the allegations against Farenthold.
Politico’s report comes as other lawmakers are facing their own accusations of sexual harassment and assault.
Pressure is mounting on Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to resign after multiple women have said that he sexually harassed them while in Congress. Other women have publicly alleged that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., sexually harassed or assaulted them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.