Texas Republicans Behaving Badly

Republican congressmen have not been immune to the sexual harassment revelations sweeping the nation. There’s one that has been swept up, and there’s one that really hasn’t, but who’s been swept up into the “sexual misconduct” category anyway, and who’s retiring, so I’m going to talk about both here.

First, the not-a-sexual-harasser-but-retiring-anyway is Rep. Joe Barton. Barton decided to retire after nude photos of him surfaced on the Internet. It turns out that those photos were taken during consensual sex after Barton had separated from his wife. A definite lapse in judgement, but by the current standards pretty small potatoes, and arguably Barton is the victim of revenge porn rather than the victimizer. But now comes reports that Barton’s ex-wife has accused him of being a serial adulterer, so, yeah, retirement is probably in order.

More serious are the problems of Rep. Blake Farenthold, who was fingered as the accused in a sexual harassment suit that lead to an $84,000 payout from the secret congressional slush fund we’ve been hearing so much about.

Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

Greene said another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

When she complained about comments Farenthold and a male staffer made to her, Greene said the congressman improperly fired her. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but the case was later dropped after both parties reached a private settlement.

Wasting $84,000 of taxpayer money because you couldn’t keep from sharing your perv fantasies with a staffer is a pretty bad look for a Republican who brags about their budget cutting. Vowing to repay the money isn’t enough. Farenthold should follow Barton’s lead and announce he’s retiring at the end of his term.

(I should note that I should know Farenthold, since we were both active in the Austin BBS community at the same time. (Kids, go ask your parents what a “BBS” was.) But I don’t remember him, and we may have just managed not to bump into each other.)

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One Response to “Texas Republicans Behaving Badly”

  1. Todd Hartmann says:

    About Blake:

    I knew Blake. We were in the Austin Sysop Society together, a group of BBS system operators who got together to eat pizza and talk shop. Of course the acronym was on purpose.

    Blake was a good person.

    I went to Dallas to make money and the next I hear of Blake, he’s won a seat in the U.S. Congress. I followed him on Twitter, and enjoyed his bit of Eyewitness Weather from the Corpus seawall during the hurricane.

    That Blake used taxpayer money to settle the case makes him look guilty.

    I’ve read the Politico article by Rachael Bade, and found Blake’s statements regarding the allegations in other articles. He has said he’ll repay the money.

    I have also seen false charges of harassment stick to a coworker, where a wave of acknowledgment became, in the accuser’s mind, something else entirely.

    And who can forget Dee Snider? “As the creator of ‘Under the Blade,’ I can say categorically that the only sadomasochism, bondage and rape in this song are in the mind of Ms. [‘Tipper’] Gore.”

    Natürlich, I started gaming it out. A necessary condition for any interesting scenario is that Blake may be innocent.

    (And please, please do not make me explain the common term “may be.”)

    In such a scenario, Blake used the hush fund money because he may have thought along the lines, “that’s what it’s there for: to keep false allegations from destroying careers and endangering the Republic.”

    Since Blake has kids, and raising kids takes all your money, I doubt he had the settlement price sitting around in ready cash.

    He took the easy out, and it makes him look guilty.

    I looked closer at the Bade article. There are the staffer’s direct allegations, butressed by a “she said someone else said he said” piece of double hearsay.

    The direct allegations, FTA, “Farenthold drank excessively and talked to her about not having sex with his wife for years. He told her one time about a female lobbyist having propositioned him for a threesome.”

    Can’t say I remember Blake ever drinking excessively, not even in those college years.

    And the quip about his sex life is *exactly* the kind of self-demeaning humor I liked about him. The “threesome” comment is similarly off-the-wall.

    The truly gross stuff is in the Double Hearsay. Which, at any moment, may become substantiated should the Someone Else who said he said it come forward (even anonymously as has the staffer). Until then, it’s unsubstantiated.

    Holy hell. Blake could be innocent, and desperate enough to have taken the easy way out.

    But damn, couldn’t he have arranged to pay the settlement over time with his own money? Because the Hush Fund payout sure makes him look guilty.

    Of course, if the Someone Else comes forward, or similar evidence is uncovered and substantiated, Blake’s side loses.

    That would be the end of the scenario, and you go to the main menu and pick another congressman.

    But if bawdy* humor and Double Hearsay** is all there is, and the possibility of Blake maybe being innocent remains intact, this scenario is just the first of a wider campaign with further scenarios like —

    2. We learn the Hush Fund is only for Democrats, and Blake being the first Republican to have touched it got burned (good! – that’ll learn ‘im!).

    3. It’s a Dan Rather production.

    Good thing about these scenarios, is I don’t have to play them. I’m just going to sit back and watch.

    * Baud-y. BBSes. Get it?
    ** I’m not talking about that truly gross John & Yoko album. That was “Double Fantasy.”

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