U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold will repay $84,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a sexual harassment claim against him from his former spokeswoman, he told KRIS-TV Monday.
Lauren Greene, the Corpus Christi Republican's former communications director, sued Farenthold in 2014 alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Both parties agreed to drop the case in 2015, but the terms of the settlement were unclear at the time. On Friday, Politico reported that the little-known Office of Compliance had covered an $84,000 settlement to Greene in that case.
Farenthold told the Corpus Christi TV station that he will take out a personal loan to repay the settlement and plans to present a check to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan later this week. Meanwhile, he said he hopes to "fix the system."
"I want to be clear that I didn't do anything wrong, but I also don't want taxpayers to be on the hook for this," Farenthold said.
Since 1997, the Office of Compliance has paid out more than $17 million for settlements in various workplace disputes on Capitol Hill. That account — and the elected officials using it — has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid a growing tide of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men. But Farenthold is the only congressman to have used the fund to settle a sexual harassment complaint in the past five years, according to Politico.