Representative Blake Farenthold, perhaps best known for his interesting taste in pajamas, settled an $84,000 sexual harassment claim with taxpayer dollars, per a report by Politico, after his former communications director, Lauren Greene, sued him for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and creation of a hostile work environment.
According to the lawsuit, filed in December 2014 in D.C. federal court, the Texas Republican, along with one of his aides, made lewd and sexual comments to Greene, and then fired her when she complained.
Greene claimed in the lawsuit that another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker 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.”
The two parties reached a private settlement that included a confidentiality agreement barring both Greene and Farenthold from discussing the settlement. It also “expressly provides that both parties deny all liability.”
According to The Washington Post, Congress’s Office of Compliance has shelled out more than $17 million in 264 settlements related to various employer-related disputes, including sexual harassment. Last week, BuzzFeed reported that Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, reached a $17,000 settlement out of his office budget in a wrongful dismissal suit, after a female staffer claimed she was fired for not “succumb[ing]” to Conyers’s sexual advances. Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken is under investigation by the Senate ethics committee after five women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Capitol Hill has a rampant sexual harassment problem, aggravated by its lack of a proper channel for victims to report abuse. The House passed a bill on Wednesday that would require sexual harassment training for all members of Congress, and Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier has called on the House to reform its broken reporting system. But after decades under a system that Speier said was orchestrated to “protect the harasser,” it’s safe to assume that more settlements will come to light.