Even though former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) quit his job as Gonzales congressman on April 6, he has still found a way to end up in the news cycle. This time, for taking another government job and for finally saying that he has no plans to repay taxpayers for a sexual harassment settlement.
On May 15, ABC News reported that Farenthold had taken a lobbying job with the Calhoun Port Authority at Port Lavaca as a “legislative liaison” responsible for “promoting the port's agenda, helping in resolving funding issues,” and “to increase the Port's presence and visibility in Washington with legislators, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Executive Branch, and other policy makers to further the Port's agenda and to obtain public funding” according to a Port official.
The ex-congressman also informed ABC News that he would not be repaying the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement that was paid for through a little-known taxpayer funded account. Once that was revealed last year, he initially said he would repay it before going silent for months on the topic.
“I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that,” he told ABC. “That's why it hasn't been repaid.”
Later, the Victoria Advocate reported that Farenthold will pull a $160,000 paycheck from the port, which taxes Calhoun County residents to operate it. They revealed that Port Authority Board Chairman Randy Boyd has contributed $16,300 to the Elect Blake Farenthold Committee since 2011.
Previously, Gov. Greg Abbott had ordered Farenthold to pay for the special election recently called to replace him, which will be held June 30. Farenthold had until May 2 to respond, in which he said, “Since I didn't call it and I don't think it's necessary, I shouldn't be asked to pay for it.”
Locally, the Gonzales County Clerk's Office — which administers county elections — revealed that the governor's office had contacted them recently to inquire how much a special election would cost them. The total, they said, is in the area of $6,000, which is typical of any other election.
And just this week, the Advocate filed a lawsuit against the Port Authority, claiming that they broke Texas open meetings laws by hiring Farenthold as a lobbyist.
“Few rights of the public are as important as the right to knowledge about how their government spends taxpayer funds and manages the public's business,” said the newspaper's attorney, John Griffin. “This suit is to vindicate those rights and to reaffirm that sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant.”