Congress

Farenthold Denies Harassment, Discrimination Claims

Texas lawmaker says lurid allegations by a former aide are untrue.

Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, (right) thinks his cat videos are much better with music.
National Journal
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Daniel Newhauser
Feb. 13, 2015, 8:08 a.m.

Rep. Blake Far­enthold has form­ally denied al­leg­a­tions that his former com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or was sexu­ally har­assed and dis­crim­in­ated against, telling a court in­stead that she was fired for un­due ab­sences.

In a re­sponse filed on be­half of Far­enthold in a D.C. fed­er­al court on Thursday, his of­fice denied that he made sexu­ally tinged com­ments to Lauren Greene, who worked for the Texas Re­pub­lic­an from 2013 un­til the sum­mer of 2014.

In a law­suit filed late last year, Greene claimed she was fired after bring­ing at­ten­tion to a pat­tern of dis­crim­in­at­ory be­ha­vi­or. But the court fil­ing on be­half of Far­enthold’s of­fice claims that “she was ter­min­ated for poor per­form­ance and fail­ure to re­port to work and ap­pear for mul­tiple me­dia events” and “lied about the cir­cum­stances of her ab­sence.”

The an­swer to Greene’s com­plaint denies “that Rep. Far­enthold was ‘at­trac­ted’ to Plaintiff, that he had ‘sexu­al fantas­ies’ about Plaintiff, or that he had ‘wet dreams’ about Plaintiff.” The doc­u­ment also states that al­though Far­enthold did oc­ca­sion­ally com­pli­ment Greene and oth­ers on their at­tire, he did not do so with any sexu­al un­der­tones, and “denies that Rep. Far­enthold stated ‘either im­pli­citly or ex­pli­citly’ that Plaintiff ap­peared to have se­men on her cloth­ing, or that a ‘reas­on­able per­son’ would in­fer the same.”

In­stead, the an­swer notes that a staffer in Far­enthold’s of­fice had to in­form Greene that she was in­ap­pro­pri­ately dressed after she “re­por­ted to work in a shirt and bra that were made of such flimsy fab­ric that Plaintiff’s nipples were vis­ible, and that such at­tire was in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the Com­mu­nic­a­tions Dir­ect­or for a Mem­ber of Con­gress.”

The of­fice did ad­mit, however, that Far­enthold was once pro­posi­tioned to en­gage in a three­some, but notes that the pro­posi­tion­er was not a lob­by­ist. It also states that staff in the of­fice did oc­ca­sion­ally joke about Far­enthold’s at­trac­tion to red­heads.

In her suit, Greene is ask­ing to be awar­ded back pay as well as fin­an­cial com­pens­a­tion for eco­nom­ic and emo­tion­al dam­ages she says she suffered at the hands of Far­enthold, in­clud­ing “em­bar­rass­ment, hu­mi­li­ation, loss of en­joy­ment of life, sleep­less­ness and feel­ings of de­pres­sion and anxi­ety.”

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