Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized Wednesday for a nude photo of himself posted by an anonymous Twitter account that made the rounds on social media, saying he was “sorry that I let my constituents down.”
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said in a statement. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days.”
Barton’s clarification that his sexual encounters were consensual and age-appropriate comes amid a wave of revelations about members of Congress in both parties sexually harassing and abusing their interns, staff members and constituents, and as a man accused of sexual misconduct and abuse toward teenage girls runs for the U.S. Senate.
It is not yet known who leaked and posted the explicit photo and screenshots of lewd messages sent by Barton, but if it was done without Barton’s consent as he claims, it could fall under Texas’ law criminalizing so-called “revenge porn.”
Yet Barton, a senior Republican in the House of Representatives who has served in Congress since 1985, confirmed to the Texas Tribune that he is considering how to move forward in the wake of the leak. A spokesperson told the paper that Barton did not plan to step down.
“I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly,” Barton said.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.