UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 13: Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, attends a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Justice Department's investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election featuring testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on December 13, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Rep. Farenthold announces plan to retire
00:59 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

A Democratic congresswoman is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to demand that GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold repay $84,000 in taxpayer money that he used to pay the settlement of a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment and other improper conduct.

Farenthold promised nearly four months ago that he would repay the money, vowing that he didn’t “want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this.”

But he has not yet done so.

“I urge you to make sure that Congressman Farenthold keeps his promise to the American people and reimburses the US Treasury immediately for the full amount of the settlement,” Rep. Jackie Speier wrote to Ryan earlier this month.

In January, Farenthold’s office told CNN that “on the advice of counsel (the congressman) is waiting to see what changes the House will make to the Congressional Accountability Act before repaying those funds.” The next month – after the House passed legislation to reform parts of the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up the system which allowed lawmakers to use taxpayer money to pay settlements discreetly – his office said the congressman is “waiting on advice of counsel before acting.”

“Congressman Farenthold’s justification for his refusal to follow through on his promise to repay taxpayers continues to change,” Speier wrote to Ryan.

A spokeswoman for Ryan said that the speaker has “reiterated to Mr. Farenthold that he needs to keep his promise to repay taxpayers for the settlement.”

The House Ethics Committee announced late last year it would investigate Farenthold for allegations of sexual harassment from the former aide, Lauren Greene, who received the $84,000 settlement after she sued Farenthold in December 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

Farenthold denied some of the allegations against him but also apologized using for inappropriate language and his role in creating a hostile workplace. He announced in December that he would not seek re-election.

The letter was first reported by HuffPost.

Farenthold announced in December that he would not seek re-election.