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Ex-Rep. Farenthold says he won't pay for election to replace him

Former GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas said in an open...

Posted: May 3, 2018 10:30 AM
Updated: May 3, 2018 10:30 AM

Former GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas said in an open letter dated Wednesday that he would not pay for the special election to replace him.

The letter from Farenthold, who stepped down from Congress last month following publicized allegations of sexual harassment, came in response to a request from Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.

Last week, Abbott issued a letter to Farenthold demanding that the former congressman "cover all costs for the called special election to fill the seat now vacated following your resignation."

Abbott opted to set a special election for June 30 to replace Farenthold, and in his letter responding to the governor's request, Farenthold called that unnecessary and took issue with the way Abbott characterized his departure.

"Since I didn't call it and don't think it's necessary, I shouldn't be asked to pay for it," Farenthold wrote of the special election.

Ciara Matthews, deputy communications director for Abbott, said in a statement that Farenthold's decision is "disappointing."

"Mr. Farenthold's decision is disappointing, but it's not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time," the statement read. "While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we're not closing the case on this issue."

Farenthold announced last year that he would retire after accusations of sexual harassment became public, and he resigned his seat in early April. California's Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN that Farenthold resigned before the House Ethics Committee could rule against him.

Farenthold said last December that he would reimburse taxpayers for an $84,000 settlement paid to a former aide who had sued him alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

CNN reported in March that Farenthold had yet to pay back the money, and Speier urged him just days before his resignation to do so.

Abbott referenced the $84,000 figure in his letter to Farenthold last week, noting there is "no legal recourse requiring" Farenthold to repay the money.

"I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election," Abbott wrote.

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