A Texas Republican Used Taxpayer Money To Settle His Staffer's Complaint About "Wet Dreams"

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A bombshell report Friday revealed that a Republican congressman used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former employee. Politico reported that Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold settled a 2014 claim by Lauren Greene, his former spokeswoman, with $84,000 paid out of Congress' Office of Compliance account. Rep. Farenthold is believed to be the only known member of Congress to have used taxpayer funds to settle with an accuser. (Farenthold refused to either confirm or deny the news.)

In 2014, Greene, who had been Farenthold's communications director, sued him for alleged sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a hostile work place. In her lawsuit, Greene claimed she'd been told by one of Farenthold's aides that the congressman had admitted to other staffers of "being attracted" to Greene and having had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about her. (A joint statement between the two was never released, but notes that Farenthold denies all Greene's accusations, adding, "The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.")

Greene's lawsuit went on to claim that Farenthold knew the staffer he confided in was friends with Greene, and would likely "convey his comments to [her]." Greene also claimed Farenthold "regularly made comments designed to gauge whether [she] was interested in a sexual relationship and that Greene was "particularly anxious to avoid private meetings" with Farenthold "because she knew about his fantasies about her," according to the lawsuit.

In her lawsuit, Greene also claimed that Farenthold "regularly drank to excess" and had a "tendency to flirt," which led staffers to joke they had to "be on 'red head patrol' to keep him out of trouble." According to Greene's lawsuit, the congressman also allegedly once used a staff meeting to announce "a female lobbyist had propositioned him for a 'threesome.'" In another instance, Greene claimed Farenthold once told her he was "estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years."

Greene's 2014 lawsuit also included allegations about the behavior of Bob Haueter, a district director for Farenthold who was later promoted to chief of staff. Greene alleged Haueter made demeaning and, or berating comments to her on multiple occasions. In another instance, Greene alleged Haueter had complained her nipples were visible through her shirt, to which Farenthold said Greene "could show her nipples whenever she wanted to."  (Neither Farenthold nor Hauter publicly commented on Greene's lawsuit.)

When Greene voiced complaints to Farenthold about the behavior and the comments being made to her, she says she was improperly fired less than a month later. However, Greene later dropped her case after reaching a settlement agreement out of court with Farenthold. An investigation into Greene's allegations by Congress' Office of Congressional Ethics, however, is reportedly still open.

At the time, Farenthold claimed the case had been dismissed and denied any wrongdoing. However, in a previously unreleased joint statement provided to Politico by Greene's lawyer, Les Alderman, the two parties announced they'd reached a settlement to avoid "great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers."

According to Politico, House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper told other Republican lawmakers Friday that Congress' Office of Compliance account had been used to settle one sexual harassment complaint for a total of $84,000 in the last five years. It is believed this is the only instance where the account was used to fund a sexual harassment settlement for a member of Congress.

However, neither Farenthold or Alderman would confirm that the settlement Greene received was paid out of the Office of Compliance account.

"While I 100 [percent] 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," Farenthold said in a statement released Friday.

While it's unclear if this is the only time the Office of Compliance has used a taxpayer-funded account to settle a sexual harassment claim, it's certainly not the only time the account has been used to settle workplace disputes. In the past two decades, more than $17 million has been paid out from the account to fund various settlements, according to NBC News.