- Nolan Hicks, Austin American-Statesman
A former staffer for U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold told the congressional committee investigating the Texas Republican that the lawmaker made her work on his re-election despite never volunteering for or being paid by the campaign, sources told CNN.
Congressional rules bar lawmakers from using public resources to benefit their political campaigns.
The allegations brought by former Farenthold communications director Elizabeth Peace come amid sexual harassment and staff abuse accusations made against Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties.
CNN said sources familiar with Peace’s conversation with congressional lawyers said that Peace also claimed that requests for campaign work were sometimes sent directly to her official House email account.
“On more than one occasion, she was asked to perform these duties when she was physically at Farenthold's congressional office on Capitol Hill during regular work hours,” CNN reported.
The House Ethics Committee announced late Thursday it would expand its investigation of the retiring Farenthold to include allegations of misuse of official resources for campaign activities and lying to the panel.
No one from Farenthold’s office responded to CNN’s request for comment and no one immediately responded to the American-Statesman Friday morning for comment on the latest allegations or the growing investigation.
Farenthold announced last week he would not seek re-election after news organizations exposed that he used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim and former staffers stepped forward with allegations of an abusive work environment. They have told Congressional investigators that Farenthold regularly berated staff, made lewd remarks and would become so enraged he would push items off of his desk and onto the floor.
However, Farenthold’s decision to withdrawal came after the deadline to remove his name from the 2018 primary ballot, leaving the state Republican Party in a lurch.