House Ethics Committee Opens Probes Into Franks, Farenthold

Bill Clark/CQPHO

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday opened investigations into Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Trent Franks (R-AZ).

According to a release, the panel is establishing an investigative subcommittee to look into allegations that Farenthold “sexually harassed a former member of his staff, discriminated against her on the basis of her gender, and retaliated against her for complaining of discriminatory conduct,” as well as allegations that Farenthold “made inappropriate statements” to other staff members.

The panel is also establishing an investigative subcommittee to determine whether Franks “engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”

TPM in 2014 reported that Lauren Greene, a former communications staffer for Farenthold, sued him over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Greene and Farenthold agreed to an $84,000 settlement, and Greene dropped her suit.

Farenthold in December insisted that he “didn’t do anything wrong” but plans to pay back the $84,000 settlement the Congressional Office of Compliance paid to settle Greene’s complaint.

Franks on Thursday announced that he will resign from Congress in January after learning of the House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations against him. In a statement, Franks said he had a “discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates” who were “uncomfortable” with the conversation.

“I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff,” Franks claimed.

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