U.S. Republican Representative Blake Farenthold, who’s under fire for accusations of sexual harassment, said he would not seek re-election in November.
“I’d never served in office before,” Farenthold said in a video released on Thursday. “I had no idea how to run a congressional office. And as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional,” the Texas Republican said in the video published Thursday afternoon. “I understand fully that this issue has become a political distraction and I would be forced to engage in a monthlong campaign for personal vindication. Quite simply, my constituents deserve better. Therefore I’m announcing my decision not to run for re-election.”
“It accommodated destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional,” he said. “And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and too often a failure to treat people with the respect they deserved. That was wrong.”
He continued: “I’m profoundly sorry.”
CNN reported that a former senior aide to the congressman described the 55-year-old as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning. Michael Rekola, who was Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, also described “his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.”
Farenthold first came under criticism when it was revealed taxpayers paid $84,000 to settle a harassment claim against him by a former aide in 2014, though he denies wrongdoing.
When asked by reporters if he denies the allegations against him, Farenthold said on Thursday, “There’ve been so many, I don’t know what all is going on.”