Sunday, December 03, 2017

Congressman Eric Holguin (TX-27)?


Until this weekend, Blake Farenthold was just another rich right-wing Texas backbencher who's never made a single contribution to anything in Congress. This weekend, news came out that his office paid $84,000 in taxpayer hush fund money to shut up a staffer who he sexually harassed. He was first elected in 2010, a Republican wave elected, against Blue Dog Solomon Ortiz, despite TX-27 then being a 73% district. As soon as Farenthold was installed, the Texas GOP immediately gerrymandered it to make it safer for Farenthold. It has gone from an R+1 swing district that Al Gore won in 2000 to an R+13 district this year, that Trump won 60.1% to 36.5% last year. The first time Farenthold squeezed into office, he won-- in a recount-- by 799 votes, the closest election in the country that cycle. A failed lawyer who became a successful hate talk radio host, he was a self-funder who spent $149,908 of his own on that first campaign.

The district still centers on Corpus Christi and the rest of Nueces County (the bluest part of the district) but now stretches way north into Houston's exurbs and northwest to the Austin exurbs as well. The district's other two population centers are Victoria and Bay City in Matagorda County.

Last cycle Farenthold spent $1,108,700 to Democrat Raul (Roy) Barrera's $18,698 and beat him 142,251 (61.7%) to 88,329 (38.3%). Farenthold's primary was much closer and this year he already has at least one primary opponent, Michael Cloud. The most serious threat to Farenthold this year, though, is progressive Democrat Eric Holguin. The DCCC has been ignoring the district-- as usual-- allowing Holguin to build a solid grassroots base.

Farenthold has long been considered a bit of a perv among his colleagues in Congress, going back to his first campaign when his pajama episode was caught on camera. Susan Collins was caught on a hot mic remarking to Jack Reed (D-RI) that "He’s so unattractive, it’s unbelievable. Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this bunny, playboy bunny?" Farenthold had earlier said he would like to challenge Collins to a duel for opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2014 a 27 year old former staffer former Farenthold staffer, Lauren Greene, filed a lawsuit against him for constantly getting drunk and creating a hostile work environment filled with sexual harassment. When she complained to H.R. (the Office of Compliance), he fired her, claiming she failed to report for work. Friday's report in Politico was that "Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment."
Greene said another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

When she complained about comments Farenthold and a male staffer made to her, Greene said the congressman improperly fired her. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but the case was later dropped after both parties reached a private settlement.

No information was ever released on that agreement.

House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door Friday morning meeting that only one House office in the past five years had used an Office of Compliance account to settle a sexual harassment complaint. Harper said in that one instance, the settlement totaled $84,000.

In a statement for this story, Farenthold would neither confirm or deny that his office was responsible for that $84,000 payout.

“While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question,” Farenthold said in a statement.

Greene’s lawyer, Les Alderman of Alderman, Devorsetz & Hora PLLC, also would not say whether Greene was the woman who received the $84,000 Harper referred to.

But in a joint statement both Greene and Farenthold prepared at the time of the settlement but never released-- a copy of which was shared with Politico by Alderman on Friday-- the two confirmed they reached a deal in part to save taxpayer dollars.

“[A]fter it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved-- including the taxpayers-- the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” the statement read. “After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator.”

The statement added: “The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.”

The statement also states that Farenthold “disagrees strongly” with his client’s allegations and “adamantly denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing.” It says the settlement included a confidentiality agreement that precludes Greene and Farenthold from discussing the case and “expressly provides that both parties deny all liability.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics also investigated Greene's allegations. In a letter to the House Ethics Committee the watchdog said "there is not substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against [ex-staffer Lauren Greene], or engaged in an effort to intimidate, take reprisal against, or discriminate against [Greene] for opposing such treatment, in violation of House rules and federal law."

In other words, a typical congressional "ethics" office whitewash for a rich and entitled white male acting in a disgusting way towards a women with lower status in the power dynamic between them and whose career he completely controlled. Greene had been working in Congress since 2009 and Farenthold and his chief of staff, Bob Haueter, sexually harassed her and forced her career in government service to be terminated, primarily because the repulsive Farenthold is a sexually perverted alcoholic with little self control and a huge sense of entitlement.

Holguin jumped right on it, very aware that a few months ago federal judges ruled that TX-27 was racially gerrymandered to deprive Hispanics of representation in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The district is about to be redrawn to make it more cohesive-- and considerably bluer-- along the 2010 lines.

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At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fucking TX! Never get your hopes up.

At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol holguin for congress, what a joke.


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