Former GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold says he does not intend to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer dollars he used to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, despite pledging to do so last year.
The former Texas congressman told ABC News on Tuesday that he has been advised by his legal counsel not to pay back the money used to settle the lawsuit. The settlement became public last year and led to the congressman’s resignation.
“I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,” Farenthold told ABC News. “That’s why it hasn’t been repaid.”
Farenthold told a Texas NBC affiliate in December that he would repay the money “this week,” saying he would likely hand a check to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) personally.
“I’m going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan, or somebody, and say ‘look, here’s the amount of my settlement, give it back to the taxpayers,’ ” he said at the time.
The Hill adds:
Farenthold was sued in 2014 by his former communications director, who alleged the Texas Republican fostered a hostile work environment, sexually harassed female staffers and discriminated against women. Farenthold denied the accusations but resigned in the wake of the allegations.
“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold said last year in a statement. “And I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying, ‘Blake, you benefited from the system, you don’t have a right to talk about it or fix it.’ “
The House Ethics Committee released a statement in April calling on Farenthold to follow through on his pledge to repay the $84,000 settlement.
“We note Representative Farenthold publicly promised to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for $84,000 in funds paid to settle the lawsuit brought against him for claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation,” the statement read. “We encourage him in the strongest possible terms to uphold that promise.”