Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) has formally issued a denial to allegations of sexual harassment made by his former communications director against him.
Farenthold, in a response filed in D.C. federal court on Thursday, says the former communications director, Lauren Greene, was actually fired for poor performance and multiple absences.
As TPM previously reported in December, Greene accused Farenthold of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. Greene said that the congressman communicated to her that he was having “wet dreams” and, at one point, suggested that she had semen on her skirt. In the new filing, Farenthold denies most of those allegations, saying that he was not attracted to his former communications director, and did not have sexual fantasies about her.
Greene also said that staff had to be on “redhead patrol” at public functions to make sure Farenthold didn’t do anything untoward. Farenthold’s filing does admit that Farenthold “occasionally joked that Rep. Farenthold finds redheads attractive, but denies the allegation’s implication that this was a source for, or cause of, concern for any staffer.”
Among the claims in Greene’s lawsuit is Farenthold suggested during a staff meeting that a lobbyist once propositioned him to have a “threesome.” Farenthold admits the allegation but “denies that the woman who propositioned Rep. Farenthold was a lobbyist, and denies the allegation’s implication that Rep. Farenthold told his staff about the proposition for an improper or lascivious purpose.”
Farenthold’s response denied that he once communicated to Greene that she “could show her nipples whenever she wanted to” but admits that after Greene became communications director “there was an occasion in which Plaintiff reported to work in a shirt and bra that were made of such flimsy fabric that Plaintiff’s nipples were visible, and that such attire was inappropriate for the Communications Director for a Member of Congress.”
Defendant admits that Rep. Farenthold once pointed out to Plaintiff that her skirt was not zipped properly. Defendant denies that Rep. Farenthold was ! staring at [Plaintiff] closely.” Answering further, Defendant avers that Rep. Farenthold and others in the office noticed and/or pointed out to Plaintiff on a number of occasions that Plaintiff would report to work with an extensive amount of animal hair on her clothing.
Importantly, Greene’s lawsuit also accused Farenthold of telling her she was being promoted to communications director permanently but then Bob Haueter, Farenthold’s acting chief of staff at the time, later told Greene that the promotion was only on a trial basis. Greene said Haueter’s bullying related to this eventually resulted in her being fired.
On June 12, 2014 Farenthold admits that he met with Greene at her request where, according to the congressman, she complained about how Haueter was “mean” to her. But Farenthold, contrary to Greene’s claim, said that Greene never complained about “any conduct or behavior based on her gender.” Farenthold said he told Greene to be more assertive with Haueter.
Read Farenthold’s response below:
(H/t: National Journal)
Updated: 5:24 PM, February, 13, 2015.