UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News just now reporting that Farenthold has announced that he is dropping his reelection bid.
Late yesterday CNN broke the story on new allegations against U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, the Texas Republican who has previously used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim. A former aide described frequent sexually inappropriate comments as well as fits of rage. Farenthold seems like a real peach.
His former communications director Michael Rekola has approached the House Ethics Committee with information, CNN’s M.J. Lee reports:
As a part of his decision to speak out about the congressman, Rekola also approached the House Ethics Committee last week. In an email to a top aide to GOP Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, the chairwoman of the Ethics panel, Rekola wrote that he wished to provide the committee “examples of sexually inappropriate comments” that Farenthold made, and speak about the congressman’s “emotionally damaging” and “intimidating” actions.
Among the accusations:
* When Rekola was about to leave town to get married, Farenthold said, “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.”
* Farenthold was subject to screaming fits of rage, pounding on his desk and calling aides “fucktards.”
* Farenthold frequently made sexually inappropriate comments about female reporters, lobbyists, and lawmakers; some of his staffers joked about being on “redhead patrol” for Farenthold. (A similar accusation was made by the woman who Farenthold settled with after a 2014 sexual harassment claim: “Because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers
who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on
“red head patrol” to keep him out of trouble.”)
Farenthold denied to CNN that he made the comment about oral sex; he admitted to calling aides “fucktards” but said it was in jest.
Elizabeth Peace, an aide who eventually replaced Rekola as communications director (she no longer works on Capitol Hill) confirmed Rekola’s account. She said that Farenthold did not sexually harass her, Lee reports, but she witnessed inappropriate behavior:
But sexual jokes were a constant in Farenthold’s office, she said, as well as comments about women’s appearances, including which congresswomen Farenthold found to be unattractive. Peace said the congressman would throw objects in angry bursts, and sometimes wipe all of the objects off of his desk, leaving aides scrambling to clean up the mess.
Many Democratic leaders had already called for Farenthold to resign. As far as I know, only one Republican member of Congress has called for him to step down. House Speaker Paul Ryan has thus far not commented to CNN.