USA Today reports:
A Texas lawmaker under fire over a sexual harassment lawsuit, will withdraw from the March 6 Republican primary.
Mike Bergsma, chairman of the Nueces County (Texas) Republican Party, said he was told Thursday morning by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold’s campaign team he will not seek re-election next year.
“It’s a damn shame,” he said. “He’s been an excellent congressman, and I’m sorry this has happened. One wonders whether anyone could have survived scrutiny that intense.”
A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold has approached the House Ethics Committee to share a damning account of working for the Texas Republican, with the intent of describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning — and his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.
Michael Rekola, who was Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, described in an interview with CNN new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior. It ranged from making sexually graphic jokes to berating aides — bullying that Rekola says led him to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.
One comment from the congressman was especially personal. Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.” He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola’s now-wife could wear white on her wedding day — a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex.