The House Committee on Ethics voted Thursday to investigate Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) over allegations that he sexually harassed a former staffer and then used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle her claim.
The decision follows a report by Politico last week that identified Farenthold as the legislator behind the payout, which came from a little-known congressional fund that can be used to settle lawsuits filed against lawmakers.
The Ethics Committee will investigate the claims, which were filed by Farenthold’s former communications director, Lauren Greene, in December 2014. In the lawsuit, Greene said her boss sexually harassed her and created a hostile work environment. She also levied accusations of gender discrimination against him.
Another Farenthold aide told Greene that the congressman said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene, she said, and when Greene complained, she was fired.
Greene’s case was settled and the lawsuit dropped, Politico reported.
The Ethics Committee said it would investigate the claim and other allegations that Farenthold made “inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff.” However, it noted that “establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”
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SOURCE: Huffington Post, Nick Visser