Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he will reimburse taxpayers after it was revealed he used public funds to settle with a former aide who sued him for sexual harassment in 2014.
Farenthold, speaking to an NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, said he will "hand a check over" this week for the $84,000 received by his former communications director, Lauren Greene, who accused him of making inappropriate comments designed to gauge whether she was interested in a sexual relationship. The congressman denied wrongdoing in the case.
"I want to be clear that I didn't do anything wrong," Farenthold told KRIS 6 News Monday in an interview posted online. "But I also don't want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this, and I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying, 'Blake, you benefited from this system. You don't have a right to talk about it or fix it.' "
Farenthold said he would probably give the check to Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The existence of a settlement between Farenthold and Greene was already public knowledge, but the amount was not reported until Friday, when the Committee on House Administration released information about settlements involving House members' offices over the past five years. Farenthold was the only House member to settle a sexual harassment complaint during that period.
In total, the Treasury fund has paid for settlements related to six claims against House members' offices since 2013, according to information provided by the Office of Compliance to the Committee on House Administration. The five complaints not pertaining to sexual harassment alleged one or more forms of employment discrimination and in some cases, retaliation.