GOP Rep. Blake Fahrenthold was revealed to have used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by his former communications director, according to a Politico report published Friday.
Farenthold, whose personal wealth is valued at over $5 million, has served in the U.S. House since 2011.
The sexual harassment settlement stems from a 2014 case brought by Lauren Greene, who alleged that her former boss fostered a hostile work environment involving sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
After Politico published its report Friday, Farenthold said in a statement, “While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question.”
That suit was settled in 2015 when both parties agreed to drop the case, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed until Friday.
The Texas Tribune notes:
Farenthold’s settlement is a small part of a much larger well of money used to settle workplace issues stemming from the U.S. House. On Capitol Hill, more than $17 million in taxpayer funds has been spent since 1997 to settle all kinds of workplace disputes — among them sexual harassment.
The fund, managed by the Office of Compliance, is under heightened public scrutiny following a wave of sexual assault accusations against members of Congress. The account was meant to protect the workplace rights of congressional staffers. But by keeping cases confidential, critics say the public money is being used to shelter the unnamed sexual harassers, and potentially endangering more victims.