Blake Farenthold

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Randolph Blake Farenthold


U.S. Representative for Texas' 27th congressional district
In office
January 3, 2011 – April 6, 2018 (resignation)
Preceded by Solomon P. Ortiz
Succeeded by Pending June 30 special election

Born December 12, 1961
Corpus Christi, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Debbie Farenthold
Children Two children
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin

St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas

Randolph Blake Farenthold (born December 12, 1961 in Corpus Christi, Texas) is an American attorney and the Republican former U.S. Representative for Texas' 27th congressional district. He unseated the 28-year Democratic incumbent Solomon P. Ortiz in the 2010 general election. Prior to his election to Congress, he was a conservative radio talk show host.

Because of a sexual harassment charge by a former staff member, in response to which Farenthold used taxpayer funds to pay a settlement, Farenthold did not seek a fifth term in the Republican primary held on March 6, 2018. Two Republicans, Bech Bruun (36 percent) and Michael Cloud (34 percent), compete in the May 22 runoff contest for their party's nomination. Two Democrats will contest their party runoff, Raul "Roy" Barrera (41 percent) and Eric Holguin (23 percent). In the District 27 primary 43,893 votes were cast for the Republican candidates; 21,187 for the Democrats.[1]

Though he had hoped to complete the term to which he was elected in 2016, Farenthold announced on April 6, 2018, that he was leaving his House seat immediately in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal and was seeking "new ways to serve."[2]

The Huffington Post reported that Farenthold resigned so abruptly to avoid imminent punishment from the House Ethics Committee, perhaps a requirement that he pay the $84,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a previous sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former aide, Lauren Greene. Though Farenthold had pledged in December 2017 to pay the money, he left Congress without having done so.[3]

The San Antonio Express-News editorially ridiculed Farenthold's congressional service: "Unfortunately, it's hard to shame someone so shameless. This is a man best known for sporting duck pajamas with a scantily clad woman. He also once owned a particularly profane website domain, often traded in despicable conspiracy theories, and even alluded to having a duel with U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine." The paper called upon Farenthold to pay the $86,000 to which he had agreed.[4]

Governor Greg Abbott has called a special election for June 30 to choose Farenthold's successor for the term ending on January 3, 2019. Abbott also urged Farenthold to pay personally for the costs of the special election.[5] Meanwhile, in the May 22 runoff contest for the Republican nomination to succeed Farenthold in District 27, small businessman Michael Cloud with 15,234 votes (61 percent), defeated intra-party rival Bech Bruun of Corpus Christi, a former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, who trailed with 9,723 votes (39 percent). Bruun had led in the March 6 Republican primary for the seat.[6] Cloud now advances to the November 6 general election in which he will face the Democrat Eric Holguin of Corpus Christi, who handily led Raul "Roy" Barrera, 6,422 votes (61.9 percent) to 3,953 (38.1 percent). The combined Republican vote, 24,957, exceeded the Democratic runoff turnout, 10,375 votes by 14,582 votes.[7] Holguin is running on a "working families" platform and will, along with Cloud and several other contenders, contest the June 30 special election for the seat. Cloud is considered the choice of grassroots conservative activists in District 27.

Upon leaving Congress, Farenthold was appointed a lobbyist at a salary of $160,000 annually for the Calhoun Port Authority in the community of Point Comfort, which was hard hit in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey. Farenthold will assist in "resolving funding issues" in Washington on behalf of the port authority.[8] Farenthold said that based on his attorney's advice he will not attempt to repay the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement, presumably because other U.S. House members in the same predicament have not been revealed to the public and will not be paying for their violations.[9]

References

  1. Election Returns. Texas Secretary of State (March 6, 2018). Retrieved on March 8, 2018.
  2. Juliegrace Brufke. GOP Rep. Farenthold announces resigns over sex harassment scandal. Msn.com. Retrieved on April 6, 2018.
  3. Jennifer Bendirey of The Huffington Post (April 17, 2018). Here's Why Congressman Blake Farenthold Resigned So Abruptly. Msn.com. Retrieved on April 18, 2018.
  4. "Farenthold should repay taxpayers" (editorial), The San Antonio Express-News, April 21, 2018, p. A12.
  5. John C. Moritz (April 25, 2018). Texas Gov. Abbott to Blake Farenthold: You pay the cost of the special election to replace you. USA Today.
  6. Republican Primary Runoff Election Returns for Congressional District 27. Texas Secretary of State (May 22, 2018). Retrieved on May 23, 2018.
  7. Democratic Primary Runoff Election Returns for Congressional District 27. Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved on May 23, 2018.
  8. Will Wissert (May 14, 2018). Disgraced ex-Texas congressman takes lucrative lobbying job. Msn.com.
  9. John Bowden (May 15, 2018). Farenthold says he won't repay $84k sexual harassment settlement. Thehill.com.