A former staffer with Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is suing the congressman’s office over an alleged hostile work environment and sexual harassment, including that the congressman communicated he was having “wet dreams” about the staffer and insinuated that she had semen on her skirt.
The allegations come from Lauren Greene, a former communications staffer for Farenthold who started in his office as New Media Director and eventually served in the role of communications director, according to the National Law Journal on Tuesday evening, which broke the news.
Greene alleges that Farenthold, a congressman who made headlines earlier this week for being listed as the registrant for the URL blow-me.org in 1999 —only recently releasing it, made a number of attempts to gauge whether she was interested in having sex with him. The complaint filed by Greene alleges that Farenthold told Greene that he was estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years. It also said that he suggested that something on her skirt looked like semen.
“On one specific occasion, Farenthold told Greene that she had something on her skirt and that he hoped his comment wouldn’t be taken for sexual harassment,” the complaint said. “A reasonable person would infer that Farenthold was joking that she had semen on her skirt.”
The suit also alleges that staffers felt Farenthold flirted too much and when they joined him on Capitol Hill functions they joked that they were on “red head patrol” to make sure Farenthold didn’t do anything untoward. Farenthold also once said during a staff meeting that a female lobbyist propositioned him to have a “threesome” once.
Most of the attention in the lawsuit has fallen on another staffer relaying allegedly relaying comments from Farenthold to Greene where he said that he had “wet dreams” and sexual fantasies about her. Farenthold, according to the lawsuit, knew those comments would reach Greene.
A less attended aspect of the lawsuit is that Greene alleges that Farenthold told her that she was being promoted to communications director. Farenthold’s acting chief of staff, Bob Haueter, later told Greene, according to the suit, that the staff change was only on a trial basis. There was eventually a confrontation between Haueter and Greene over this. The lawsuit alleges that on multiple occasions Haueter “humiliated” Greene and bullied her in relation to the communications director role and was eventually fired as a result.
The source with knowledge of the situation, however, said that Greene the tipping point that resulted in Greene’s termination was that she had not shown up for work and lied about why.
Counsel for the House of Representatives is representing Farenthold’s office and is likely to file a motion to dismiss. A source with knowledge of the lawsuit and situation behind it said that during discussions of a settlement Greene asked for a few hundred thousand dollars, which the House counsel rejected.
Farenthold, a former co-host of a right-wing radio show based out of Corpus Christ, Texas, rode into Congress in 2010 as part of the tea party wave. He’s also got a background in politics. His grandfather’s second wife was one of the only women in the in the 1968 Texas House of Representatives. She actually twice ran as a liberal Democrat to be governor of Texas, according to the Texas Observer. Farenthold also has argued about a “compassionate solution” for undocumented immigrant youths brought to the U.S. by their parents through a pathway to citizenship. But in 2013, as the Observer noted, Farenthold voted in support of restarting deportation of those same young undocumented immigrants after President Barack Obama signed an executive order changing the policy.
Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Farenthold and someone who earned some fame of his own while working for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), said in a statement passed to TPM that the Texas congressman’s office would respond through the appropriate legal process:
As is the case with any pending legal situation, the Congressman cannot comment on the specifics of the complaint, however, it goes without saying that both the Congressman and the members of his staff who are included in this complaint have a very different view of the allegations than Ms. Greene. For the record, the Office did not and does not discriminate based on sex or any other unlawful factor. The Congressman is eager to respond to Ms. Greene’s allegations through the appropriate legal process and is confident that once all of the facts are revealed, he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Read the complaint against Farenthold’s office below: