Farenthold: I didn't do anything wrong -- but I'll foot the bill for it

And without even passing a law! Rep. Blake Farethold, the four-termer whose five-figure settlement on sexual harassment allegations got covered by taxpayers, now says he wants to “fix the system.” Farenthold says the investigation into former staffer Lauren Greene’s allegations cleared him, but that he will still take out a personal loan to cover the settlement.

Farenthold says he was a victim of the system himself, which motivates him to fix it:

The four-term Congressmen tells 6 Investigates he was not given a choice in whether to spend his own money, or the taxpayers’, when handling the suit in which former employee Lauren Greene alleged the Congressman, and key staff members, created a hostile work environment and then, retaliated against her when she complained.

The Greene lawsuit paralleled an investigation by the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee, which unanimously cleared Farenthold of any wrongdoing.

“I wish I could have said something Friday … I went to the House lawyer and said, ‘What can I say?, and they said ‘Nothing … Here’s the statement that you can make.'”

Farenthold faced some pressure to resign his seat, similar to John Conyers and Al Franken in the Senate, but so far has not announced any plans to abandon his office. This interview with KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi is part of his rehabilitation effort, clearly, along with his pledge to take out a loan to pay back the money. Presumably, it would be a short-term loan, as Farenthold’s estimated wealth in his 2016 disclosure was just under $6 million. His plea of struggling to make the six-figure settlement amount might not accrue too much sympathy, under the circumstances.

This might get him off the hook for a resignation, however, especially if Farenthold can substantiate his claim of exoneration. However, it also underscores again the problem of having members foot the bill for these settlements themselves. Only the very wealthy will be able to afford to run for these offices, and as I wrote this morning, that doesn’t seem like a very effective way to keep the pathologically entitled out of the halls of power. What’s needed is more transparency — and better pricing signals to constituencies that elect abusive officials.