By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas, accused by a female former aide of sexual harassment, abruptly resigned from Congress on Friday after admitting to allowing an unprofessional culture to flourish in his Capitol Hill office.
“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” the 56-year-old congressman who represented Corpus Christi in the U.S. House of Representatives said in a social media video statement.
While Farenthold has denied the sexual harassment accusation, the former conservative radio show host said in December he would not seek re-election. He made that announcement a week after the House ethics committee said it was investigating him over allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation involving a female former staff member.
“I had no idea how to run a congressional office, and as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional,” Farenthold said in December.
The ethics committee said it was also looking into whether Farenthold had made inappropriate statements to other members of his staff.
His resignation took effect on Friday afternoon. Farenthold, who began serving in Congress in 2011, is the latest of several U.S. lawmakers who have stepped down or not sought re-election after being accused of sexual harassment.
Politico reported in December 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, his former communications director, Lauren Greene, filed a lawsuit accusing him of creating a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and retaliation, court documents showed. The two reached a confidential mediated agreement in 2015, according to a statement from Farenthold’s office that denied any wrongdoing by him.
Reuters has been unable to verify the allegations against Farenthold.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Will Dunham)