Rep. Blake Farenthold, who’s under fire for accusations of sexual harassment, is not planning to run for re-election, a Republican source familiar with the situation told CNN on Thursday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke with Farenthold, a Texas Republican, twice late Wednesday. Rep. Steve Stivers, who chairs the House campaign arm, also met with Farenthold.
“Look, I had a couple of conversations with Blake Farenthold,” Ryan said at his weekly news conference. “I think he’s making the right decision to retire. There are new stories that are disconcerting. Unacceptable behavior has been alleged in those stories. And I think he’s made the right decision that he’s leaving Congress. And that reflects on the conversations we’ve had.”
Farenthold did not respond to request for comment from reporters when asked Thursday about when he’ll resign.
The news that Farenthold won’t seek re-election follows a CNN report Wednesday that a former senior aide to the congressman has approached the House Ethics Committee to share a damning account of working for Farenthold, with the intent of describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning — and his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.
The Ethics Committee was already investigating Farenthold for investigating sexual harassment allegations made by Farenthold’s former aide, Lauren Greene. The congressman has previously denied any wrongdoing in the Greene case and on Wednesday denied some of the accusations the former aide told CNN though Farenthold also said some of the language he used was not appropriate.
Like all members of the House of Representatives, Farenthold’s term end every two years, meaning his current plans to retire mean he could be in office until January 2019.