Blake Farenthold
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Blake Farenthold

Blake Farenthold
Blake Farenthold official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 27th district

January 3, 2011 - April 6, 2018
Solomon Ortiz
Michael Cloud
Personal details
Born
Randolph Blake Farenthold

(1961-12-12) December 12, 1961 (age 58)
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Debbie Farenthold
Children2
EducationUniversity of Texas at Austin (BS)
St. Mary's University, Texas (JD)

Randolph Blake Farenthold (born December 12, 1961) is an American politician and lobbyist.[1][2] A member of the Republican Party, Farenthold co-hosted a conservative talk-radio program before beginning a career in politics. Farenthold served as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 27th congressional district from 2011 until his resignation in April 2018 in the wake of reports he used public funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and had created an intensely hostile work environment for women in his congressional office.[3][4][5][6] Upon resigning, Farenthold pledged to reimburse the US$84,000 in public money that he used to settle the lawsuit, then reneged his pledge to repay in May 2018.[2][7]

Early life

Farenthold was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, the son of Mary Sue (née Ogg; 1939-2014) and George Randolph "Randy" Farenthold (1939-1972). His wealthy paternal grandfather, George Edward Farenthold (1915-2000), was a Belgian immigrant descended from an aristocratic industrialist family, and worked in the oil industry in Texas.[8] Blake is the former step-grandson of Sissy Farenthold, who married and divorced his grandfather, George Farenthold.[8]

Farenthold attended Incarnate Word Academy and the University of Texas at Austin where he received a B.S. degree in Radio, Television, and Film. He received a J.D. degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio,[9] and was admitted to the Texas Bar (Bar# 06814500).

Career as lawyer and talk radio host

Farenthold was a radio DJ in college. Before running for office, he was a right-wing talk radio host in Corpus Christie (co-hosting Lago in the Morning) and spent seven years at the Kleberg Law Firm, where his stepfather, Hayden Head, Sr., was a partner.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2010

Farenthold defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz by 799 votes on election night.[11] Ortiz asked for a manual recount. On Monday, November 22, Ortiz conceded the race to Farenthold. Farenthold's final margin of victory over Ortiz was 47.85 to 47.1 percent.[12] His margin of victory was 799 votes.[13] Ortiz had represented the district since its creation in 1982.

2012

Redistricting after the 2010 census made Farenthold's district significantly more Republican. His old district had been 70 percent Latino, but the new map shifted most of the Latino areas to the newly created 34th district. To make up for the loss in population, his district was shifted well to the north and east, absorbing some heavily Republican territory near Houston and Austin.

He defeated Democratic nominee Rose Meza Harrison 57-39 percent.[14]

2014

Farenthold was not challenged in the Republican primary. In the general election, he defeated Democrat Wesley Reed by a margin of 83,342 to 44,152 (63.6% to 33.7%).[15]

Farenthold's official portrait for the 114th session
2016

Farenthold won re-nomination in the March 1 Republican primary with 42,872 votes (56 percent) to 33,699 (44 percent) for his challenger, Gregg Patrick Deeb (born c. 1964) of Corpus Christi, who formerly lived in South Carolina.[16] In the general election held on November 8, Farenthold defeated the Democrat Raul "Roy" Barrera, who had won his party nomination on March 1 with 16,140 votes (50.3 percent) over two opponents.[17] Farenthold polled 142,251 votes (61.7 percent) to Barrera's 88,329 (38.3 percent).[18]

Farenthold joined the Republican Study Committee, as well as the Tea Party Caucus. Since redistricting in 2011, his district ran along the middle Texas Gulf coast from Corpus Christi to Bay City and inland to Luling, and includes Aransas, Calhoun, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, and parts of Bastrop, Caldwell, and Gonzales counties.

Political positions

Internet

Having used the Internet since the mid-1980s,[19] Farenthold received praise from the online privacy community when he introduced bipartisan legislation that would prevent states from forcing companies to weaken encryption for law enforcement purposes.[20] However, Farenthold voted to repeal an FCC Internet privacy rule that would have prohibited Internet service providers from selling the browsing history of their customers without customers' consent.[21]

Donald Trump

Farenthold endorsed Trump in the 2016 presidential race.[22] After the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording was made public, Farenthold was asked what it would take for him to rescind his endorsement, and whether Trump saying "I really like raping women" would be sufficient, Farenthold said that he "would have to consider it."[22] Farenthold later apologized, saying "I do not, and have not ever condoned rape or violence against women. That is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be."[22]

He supported Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying "we must be cautious who we allow into our country."[23]

Ethics

In January 2017, Farenthold voted in favor of gutting the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, supporting a measure that would remove the office's independence by placing it under the jurisdiction of the Republican-led House Ethics Committee. Following a backlash, the decision was reversed.[24]

Health care

On May 4, 2017, Farenthold voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[25][26] In a radio interview in July 2017, he said it was "absolutely repugnant" that the Affordable Care Act had not been repealed yet. In particular, he criticized "some female senators from the Northeast," and stated "if it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style."[27][28]

2016 election conspiracy theories

In a May 2017 appearance on CNN, Farenthold publicly doubted the Russian hack of Democratic Party servers and instead promoted a debunked conspiracy theory that the hack was an "inside job." When pressed by journalist John Berman, Farenthold defended his statement by saying that there were "Things circulating on the internet." Farenthold's claim contradicted testimony from former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan and the conclusions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CIA.[29][30][31] Farenholdt's statement was criticized by the editorial board of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, who called it "Farenthold's latest new low" and said "Farenthold's antics are becoming increasingly cartoonish."[32]

Allegations of inappropriate behavior and resignation from Congress

Lauren Greene

In 2014, Farenthold was sued by a former staffer, Lauren Greene, who accused the congressman of gender discrimination, saying that he created a hostile work environment and improperly fired her after she complained.[33][34] 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."[3]

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.

The sexual harassment lawsuit was settled out of court in November 2015 on confidential terms.[35][36] In December 2017, it was reported that the settlement, for $84,000, was made with taxpayer money.[3][37]

Michael Rekola

In December 2017, Michael Rekola, a former senior aide and communications director to Farenthold, alleged that the congressman was verbally abusive and sexually demeaning, and described his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment with Farenthold often making comments about women's physical features, including their breasts or behinds.[5] Past co-workers and relatives have corroborated Rekola's story, some having first-hand accounts of Farenthold subjecting his staff "to a stream of angry behavior...screaming fits of rage, slamming fists on desks and castigating aides", and regularly using profane slurs to describe those who worked in his office.[6] Farenthold denied using sexual insults, but admitted to using vulgar language, claiming that it was "in jest".[38]

Resignation from Congress

Farenthold announced on December 14, 2017, that he would retire and not seek reelection to his seat in 2018.[39][40]

On April 6, 2018, he suddenly resigned from office.[41]

On April 24, 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered an emergency special election for the district. Abbott asked Farenthold to pay the cost for the special election;[42] Farenthold declined to do so.[43] The June 30, 2019 special election to replace Farenthold was won by fellow Republican Michael Cloud.[44]

Farenthold rejected calls for him to repay the public funds used to settle the sexual harassment case against him.[45][46]

Lobbying career

After resigning from Congress, Farenthold announced on May 14, 2018 that he would be serving as the legislative liaison for the Calhoun Port Authority at a salary of $160,000.10 after resigning his Congressional seat.[47] Farenthold's appointment was questioned because of the reasons for the resignation and because "Revolving Door" laws generally prohibit former representatives from immediately lobbying their recent colleagues.[48][49] Farenthold resigned as lobbyist for the port authority in January 2019.[50] In May 2019 the board member who directed port staff to hire Farenthold as a lobbyist was defeated for reelection.[51]

Personal life

Farenthold lives with his wife Debbie and two daughters Morgan and Amanda in Corpus Christi.

In 1972, when Farenthold was ten years old, his father disappeared and was later found dead, his body having washed ashore after being weighed down with a cement block and deposited in Corpus Christi Bay.[52] The gangland-style murder was the work of enemies of the elder Farenthold, who feared he would testify against a group of con artists who had tried to defraud him out of $100,000.[8]

In 2010, images of Farenthold dressed in one-piece fleece "ducky" pajamas alongside women in lingerie emerged on the website thecrushgirls.com. Farenthold's Democratic challenger subsequently ran a political ad highlighting the unusual nature of the images.[53]

Electoral history

2010 27th Congressional District of Texas Elections[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Blake Farenthold 50,954 47.85
Democratic Solomon Ortiz 50,155 47.10
Libertarian Ed Mishou 5,372 5.04
Total votes 106,599 100.0
2012 27th Congressional District of Texas Elections[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Blake Farenthold (Incumbent) 120,684 56.75
Democratic Rose Meza Harrison 83,395 39.22
Independent Bret Baldwin 5,354 2.52
Libertarian Corrie Byrd 3,218 1.51
Total votes 212,651 100.0
2014 27th Congressional District of Texas Elections[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Blake Farenthold (Incumbent) 83,342 63.60
Democratic Wesley Reed 44,152 33.69
Libertarian Roxanne Simonson 3,553 2.71
Total votes 131,047 100
2016 27th Congressional District of Texas Elections[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Blake Farenthold (Incumbent) 142,251 61.69
Democratic Wesley Reed 88,329 38.31
Total votes 230,580 100

References

  1. ^ Representative Randolph Blake Farenthold (Blake) (R-Texas, 27th) Biography from LegiStorm.
  2. ^ a b "Disgraced former GOP congressman lands lucrative lobbying gig". NBC News. Associated Press. May 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Bade, Rachael (December 1, 2017). "Lawmaker behind secret $84K sexual harassment settlement unmasked". Politico.
  4. ^ Yamiche Alcindor & Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Taxpayers Paid $84,000 to End Sex Harassment Claim Against Texas Lawmaker, New York Times (December 1, 2017), "...In 2014, the congressman's former communications director, Lauren Greene, accused him of regularly making comments to gauge her interest in a sexual relationship....Farenthold of drinking "to excess" on numerous occasions..."
  5. ^ a b Ruiz-Grossman, Sarah (December 14, 2017). "Rep. Farenthold's Former Aide Describes Abusive Behavior In CNN Report". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ a b MJ Lee. "Ex-Farenthold aide shares new details of vulgar and abusive behavior". CNN. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ Viebeck, Elise (May 15, 2018). "Ex-Rep. Farenthold says he won't repay $84K sexual harassment settlement". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018. 'I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,' Farenthold told [ABC News]. 'That's why it hasn't been repaid.'
  8. ^ a b c Draper, Robert (April 1992). "The Blood of the Farentholds". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2013.
  9. ^ Blake Farenthold Campaign Website Archived November 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Ari Phillips, In a Do-Nothing Congress, Blake Farenthold is Enjoying the View, Texas Observer (June 20, 2014).
  11. ^ Farenthold Ousts Ortiz in Tight Race, Accessed on November 3, 2010
  12. ^ a b "2010 General Election, Election Night Returns, Unofficial Elections Results As Of: 11/3/2010 12:14:58 PM". Texas Secretary of State. November 3, 2010. Archived from the original on February 3, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ Chris Gentilviso (March 23, 2014). "Bill Maher's Campaign To Find The Worst Member Of Congress Is Underway". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Hendricks, Dave (November 4, 2014). "Farenthold retains congressional seat". Corpus Christie Caller Times. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "Republican primary returns". Texas Secretary of State. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "Democratic primary returns". Texas Secretary of State. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  18. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  19. ^ Farenthold, R. Blake (October 9, 1985). "Kermit on The Source". Info-Kermit Digest. Kermit Project, Columbia University. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ Farivar, Cyrus (February 10, 2016). "House bill would kill state, local bills that aim to weaken smartphone crypto". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on February 10, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  21. ^ "Almost every U.S. representative from Central Texas voted for repeal of Internet privacy rule". Austin American-Statesman. March 29, 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Rudner, Jordan (October 11, 2016). "If Trump said he really liked to rape women, would you endorse him? Maybe, says Texas lawmaker". Dallas News. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
  24. ^ Moritz, John C. (January 3, 2017). "Farenthold among Republicans voting to gut ethics panel". Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
  25. ^ Soffen, Kim; Cameron, Darla; Uhrmacher, Kevin (May 4, 2017). "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ "How every member voted on health care bill". CNN. May 5, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ "The Latest: Lawmaker blames female senators for failed bill". Associated Press. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "Bob Jones 7 - 21 - 17 27th District Congressman Blake Farenthold". SoundCloud. 1440 KEYS Corpus Christi. July 21, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ Chris Cillizza, A Texas Republican Congressman just said something deeply irresponsible about Seth Rich's murder, CNN (May 24, 2017).
  30. ^ Philip Bump, Another elected official cites 'the Internet' in defense of his bad arguments, Washington Post (May 24, 2017).
  31. ^ Matt Woolbright, Farenthold: DNC staffer killing needs federal investigation, Corpus Christi Caller-Times (May 24, 2017).
  32. ^ Editorial: Farenthold's latest new low reflects upon his constituents, Corpus Christi Caller-Times (May 25, 2017).
  33. ^ Bresnahan, John (December 16, 2014). "Ex-spokeswoman sues Blake Farenthold, alleges discrimination". Politico. Retrieved 2014.
  34. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (December 17, 2014). "Congressman Who Owns 'Blow-me.org' Sued for Sexual Harassment". New York Magazine.
  35. ^ Bowman, Bridget (November 18, 2015). "Farenthold Sexual Harassment Case Is Settled Out of Court". Roll Call.
  36. ^ Diaz, Kevin (November 19, 2015). "Farenthold settles sexual discrimination suit". Houston Chronicle.
  37. ^ Zielinski, Alex (January 3, 2018). "Rep. Farenthold Said He'd Immediately Repay Taxpayers the $84k Spent on Sexual Harrassment [sic] Case. He Hasn't". SACurrent.com. San Antonio Current. Retrieved 2018.
  38. ^ "GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold admits to regularly calling staffers one particular vulgar name, says it was 'in jest'". December 14, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ Quinn, Melissa (December 14, 2017). "Blake Farenthold to retire from Congress amid allegations of sexual misconduct, 'abusive' behavior". Washington Examiner. Washington, DC. Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ Schneider, Elena (December 14, 2017). "Farenthold won't seek reelection". Politico. Washington, DC. Retrieved 2017.
  41. ^ DeBonis, Mike (April 6, 2018). "Rep. Blake Farenthold, facing ethics probe, abruptly resigns". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018.
  42. ^ Moritz, John (April 25, 2018). "Gov. Abbott to Blake Farenthold: You pay the cost of the special election to replace you". Corpus Christi Caller Times. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 2018.
  43. ^ Robin Opsahl, Farenthold Says He Won't Pay for His Replacement Special Election, Roll Call (May 3, 2018).
  44. ^ Texas special election: GOP activist wins Farenthold's seat, Politico (June 30, 2019).
  45. ^ Nicole Cobler, Disgraced ex-congressman Blake Farenthold won't repay taxpayer money used in sexual harassment suit, Dallas Morning News (May 15, 2018).
  46. ^ John Parkinson, Disgraced former congressman Blake Farenthold won't repay $84K sexual harassment settlement, ABC News (May 15, 2018).
  47. ^ Ramirez, Chris (May 15, 2018). "Embattled ex-congressman Blake Farenthold finds safe harbor at the Port of Port Lavaca". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ Bendery, Jennifer (May 15, 2018). "Not An Onion Story: Blake Farenthold Gets A New Job Lobbying Congress". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018.
  49. ^ Maskell, Jack. "Post-Employment, "Revolving Door," Laws for Federal Personnel" (PDF). Federation of American Scientists. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2018.
  50. ^ McCarthy, Ciara (January 10, 2019). "Farenthold resigns as Calhoun Port Authority lobbyist (w/resignation letter)". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 2019.
  51. ^ Priest, Jessica (May 4, 2019). "2 Calhoun port challengers roll to easy victory after Farenthold controversy". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 2019.
  52. ^ "Millionaire Slain; Found on Beach". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. June 7, 1972. Retrieved 2013.
  53. ^ Siegel, Elyse (October 16, 2010). "GOP Candidate Blake Farenthold Targeted After Being Caught in Ducky Pajamas With Scantily Clad Women". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014.
  54. ^ "Race Summary Report 2012 General Election". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  55. ^ "Race Summary Report 2014 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State. Archived from the original on January 19, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  56. ^ "Race Summary Report 2016 General Election". Office of the Secretary of State. Retrieved 2017.

External links


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