A settlement reached by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold and a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment was paid with taxpayers’ money -- and this is how Twitter reacted. NATALIA CONTRERAS/CALLER-TIMES
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Texas congressman who used taxpayer money as part of a 2015 sexual harassment settlement involving a former staffer vowed to reimburse taxpayers.
U.S. Rep Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, was on KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi on Monday and pledged to "hand over a check" to House Speaker Paul Ryan or another congressional leader in the amount of a settlement paid to dispose a case brought against him by former staffer Lauren Greene.
"I want to be clear that I didn't do anything wrong, but I also don't want taxpayers to be on the hook for this," Farenthold said in the TV interview. "And I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without having people say 'Blake, you've benefited from the system. You don't have the right to talk about it or fix it.' "
On Friday, Greene's lawyer, Leslie D. Alderman III, said "Any settlement paid under the Congressional Accountability Act is paid using federal dollars, which are taxpayers' dollars."
Alderman represented Greene, who was Farenthold's communications director until she was fired in July 2014. In December 2014, she filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Farenthold of making sexually charged statements toward her and engaging in off-color behavior.
In her complaint, Greene alleged that another staffer had told her that "Farenthold had admitted to being attracted" to her and had said he'd had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her.
Farenthold at the time called the salacious allegations "outrageous" and said they were the product of an unhappy former staffer. The suit was settled in November 2015 and the terms were not disclosed.
Through an anonymous source, the Washington, D.C., newsletter Politico reported Friday that the terms called for Greene to be paid $84,000.
On Friday, Farenthold said he could not discuss the matter in detail.
Contributing: John C. Moritz, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times. Follow Chris Ramirez on Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam