US House ethics panel probing Blake Farenthold over harassment allegations

US House ethics panel probing Blake Farenthold over harassment allegations

The U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) of politically-motivated allegations that he mishandled classified information.

Another former Farenthold staffer, Elizabeth Peace, told the Chronicle Thursday that she believes Greene's account based on her own experiences in Farenthold's congressional office after Greene left.

The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining.

Greene sued her boss in December 2014, alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. She filed a lawsuit later that year that accused Farenthold of making sexually charged statements toward her and engaging in off-color behavior.

On Friday, Politico revealed that settlement included $84,000 in taxpayer funds.

The Office of Congressional Ethics found insufficient basis to recommend an ethics inquiry against Farenthold on Greene's allegations.

Specifically, the ethics committee is seeking "to determine whether Representative Blake Farenthold violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standards of conduct in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities", according to the statement.

Greene reportedly agreed to the interview. "This investigation increases the transparency the public deserves and what I've wanted since the beginning".

The settlement was reported last week by several news outlets - and Farenthold told a local television news station Monday that he would pay back the money. "I'm also pleased the Committee on Ethics recognizes, as per their statement, that I have cooperated fully with the committee's investigation and has acknowledged a decision has been delayed because of difficulty obtaining live testimony from other witnesses".

Farenthold subsequently said he was taking out a personal loan to cover the settlement's costs.

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