Farenthold: "I didn't do anything wrong." - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Farenthold: "I didn't do anything wrong."

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U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold says he's going to pay back the money taxpayers spent settling a lawsuit filed against his office by a former employee.

The four-term Congressmen tells 6 Investigates he was not given a choice in whether to spend his own money, or the taxpayers', when handling the suit in which former employee Lauren Greene alleged the Congressman, and key staff members, created a hostile work environment and then, retaliated against her when she complained.

The Greene lawsuit paralleled an investigation by the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee, which unanimously cleared Farenthold of any wrongdoing.

"I wish I could have said something Friday ... I went to the House lawyer and said, 'What can I say?, and they said 'Nothing ... Here's the statement that you can make.'"

The Congressional Accountability Act, created in 1995 to give Congressional employees a way to pursue harassment claims, requires Congress to use only those funds appropriated for "awards and settlements" brought under the law.

Now, Farenthold says he's taking out a personal loan to repay the amount of the settlement, and will present a check to House Speaker Paul Ryan, this week in Washington.

The development comes 48 hours after the Texas Republican became the face of a system set up by lawmakers to allow lawsuits against Congressional employees to be paid out of public coffers.

Farenthold says it's a broken system in that it muzzles members from divulging even basic details while asking taxpayers to foot the bill for lawsuits whose details are hidden from view.

"The process is broken."

He's vowing to push for reform. 

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