Aides Describe Hostile Work Environment In Farenthold’s Office

Bill Clark/CQPHO

With renewed attention being paid to a sexual harassment settlement Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) paid to a former aide, the New York Times revealed on Monday that two other aides submitted formal complaints about the office environment.

One aide complained that Farenthold’s chief of staff, Bob Haueter, treated female staffers differently, and another aide, Elizabeth Peace, complained that a female staffer made “inappropriate sexualized commentary in the workplace,” according to the New York Times. Farenthold spokeswoman Stacey Daniels told the Times that a lawyer reviewed those complaints and did not find evidence of gender bias of inappropriate sexual comments.

Peace told the New York Times that the level of inappropriate behavior in the office would not have taken place “if the congressman hadn’t already set the tone.”

One former aide, who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity, said that staff regularly commented on women’s bodies.

“There were numerous lewd comments that were made either about female reporters’ breast size, or other reporters’ breast size as well as female lobbyists and their appearance that would go on,” the aide said. “On any given week you were prone to either ridicule, rude comments, acts of aggression or rage.”

Lauren Greene, the former aide who received a settlement from Farenthold for alleged sexual harassment, said that the congressman liked redheads and “regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘redhead patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.”

Lawyers for Farenthold acknowledged to the New York Times that “some staff occasionally joked that Rep. Farenthold finds redheads attractive.”

Farenthold reportedly paid a $84,000 settlement to Greene after she sued him in 2o14. Greene said she was fired after complaining that a staffer told her that Farenthold had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her.