Farenthold should resign if misconduct accusations true: senior House Republican

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, on Friday told Fox News Channel that fellow Republican Representative Blake Farenthold should resign if an ethics investigation finds that sexual misconduct accusations against him have merit.

“If these allegations are proven to be true … I would hope that he would step aside,” said McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference.

Farenthold’s office was not immediately available to comment on her remarks.

The House Ethics Committee said on Thursday it was investigating Farenthold, 55, over allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation involving a former female staff member.

It said it was also looking into whether the Corpus Christi, Texas, congressman made inappropriate statements to other members of his staff.

Farenthold said on Thursday he was relieved that the ethics panel was going to look into the accusations. “Once all the facts are released, I‘m confident this matter will once and for all be settled and resolved,” he said.

Politico reported last week that the congressional Office of Compliance had paid $84,000 from a public fund on behalf of Farenthold for a sexual harassment claim. In 2014, Farenthold’s former communications director Lauren Greene sued him, alleging a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and retaliation, court documents showed.

Farenthold and Greene reached a mediated agreement in 2015 to avoid costly litigation, but the settlement’s details were confidential, according to a statement released at the time in which Farenthold denied engaging in any wrongdoing.

A number of lawmakers have been accused of sexual misconduct. This week, Democratic Representative John Conyers and Republican Representative Trent Franks resigned, while Democratic Senator Al Franken said he would be stepping down in the coming weeks.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Toni Reinhold)



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