Report: Farenthold Won’t Seek Re-Election After Male Former Aide Reveals More Inappropriate Behavior
Farenthold allegedly told Rekola that his fiancée better “blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.”
The local ABC station in Victoria, TX, has reported that Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) will not seek re-election. The station is currently trying to receive more information from his office. His term ends on January 20, 2019.
The news comes a day after Michael Rekola, Farenthold’s former communications director in 2015, has come forward to reveal the improper behavior towards him from Farenthold, including sexual jokes about his then-fiancée.
Will He Not Run?
Probably. Over at Texas Tribune, Abby Livingston reported that Farenthold started to lose support from the Republican delegation in Texas:
In the first overt sign that U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, is losing support among his Republican colleagues in the Texas delegation, the embattled congressman’s most prominent primary challenger announced the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, late Wednesday.
A news release from the campaign of former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun announced Williams’ support.
“At a time when the Coastal Bend faces serious challenges in the on-going recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, Congressional District 27 needs effective leadership now more than ever,” Williams said in the release.
Livingston tweeted that one should “assume news is coming when nobody answers your calls.” She also said:
I’m told by a House GOP source familiar with the matter that Speaker Ryan spoke to Farenthold twice yesterday.
— Abby Livingston (@TexasTribAbby) December 14, 2017
Additionally, I’m told by several sources that Farenthold met last night with NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers
— Abby Livingston (@TexasTribAbby) December 14, 2017
However, the state’s deadline to file for the primary was on Monday and Farenthold didn’t withdraw, which means his name will be on the ballot. Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek tweeted out how that could change:
The one remaining scenario that could knock him off the ballot, per SOS: a successful challenge to the candidate’s application before the mail-in ballots go out in late February. #TX27 https://t.co/M4DEglPXl1
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) December 14, 2017
Rekola’s Transition to Farenthold’s Office
Females have started to speak out about sexual misconduct and improper behavior on Capital Hill. Earlier this month, Politico revealed that taxpayers paid $84,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit between Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Lauren Greene, a former female employee.
But it’s not only females who have experienced harassment.
Rekola used to work for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), but went to Farenthold’s office “in December 2014 with an explicit mandate to help create positive headlines for the congressman.” Apparently the coverage of the former female aide’s lawsuit against him fueled his “erratic and volatile behavior.” CNN continued:
“Every time he didn’t like something, he would call me a f**ktard or idiot. He would slam his fist down in rage and explode in anger,” Rekola said. “He was flying off the handle on every little thing. I couldn’t find a way to control it.”
Farenthold also frequently made lewd comments about the appearance of women including reporters and lobbyists, Rekola said, remarking on the size of women’s breasts and buttocks. Some of Rekola’s colleagues joked about being on “redhead patrol” — a reference to Farenthold’s well-known affinity for women with red hair (this detail was also described in Greene’s lawsuit against Farenthold).
Sexual Jokes About Rekola’s Fiancée
Rekola spoke to CNN:
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.
“I was disgusted and I left. I walked out,” Rekola said. Almost immediately after returning from his wedding, he gave his two-weeks notice.
That was only one time. Rekola described to CNN that Farenthold would flip into “screaming fits of rage, slamming fists on desks.” He regularly called his aides “f*cktards,” which his former co-worker Elizabeth Pearce confirmed:
Elizabeth Peace was hired to help with Farenthold’s communications efforts in May 2015 when Rekola was sometimes out of the office to deal with his stomach ailment. Peace, who eventually became a full-time communications director, confirmed in an interview that Farenthold regularly called aides “f**ktards.” She also said she was present when Farenthold made the oral sex comment about Rekola’s then-fiancée.
“Every staffer in that area heard it,” Peace said. “It was the most shocking thing I’d heard him say at that point.”
Peace said that Farenthold never sexually harassed her, but the sexual jokes were a regular thing in the office and she heard him make comments about how women dressed ands their appearances, “including which congresswomen Farenthold found to be unattractive.”
Other friends spoke to CNN and confirmed that they would walk around with Rekola on the Hill as he described the abuse in Farenthold’s office:
“The conversations were often about inappropriate things that he would say, whether it was sexual humor or really abusive in terms of shouting and overall anger that’s not professional,” the friend said. “It’s not the way to treat someone else who’s working for you.”
Rekola started to have stomach issues in the spring of 2015. After Farenthold lashed out at Rekola for social media posts he didn’t like, the aide passed out in the bathroom. Testing occurred in D.C. and doctors determined that “Rekola’s recent history of ‘anxiety, stress, reduction in eating,’ among other factors, could be a cause of his stomach acid triggered problems.
He said he had great health when he started working for Farenthold, but it all went downhill after that with daily stomach pains and vomiting. The lawmaker recalled it differently:
“We accommodated him by giving him time to go to the doctor, letting him work from home, and roughly a year after he left our office, he came in and spoke with a number of my aides, delighted that the doctors had finally found out what was causing his stomach distress,” Farenthold said. “It was not stress related, but we recall him saying he was allergic to anything he ate.”
Rekola said he visited former colleagues at Farenthold’s office a handful of times after leaving his job. He said that he was recently tested for food allergies and is allergic to some things. While there is no way to know for sure the exact cause of Rekola’s medical problems, he said his doctor and therapist believed the stomach illness likely stemmed from stress.
Farenthold told CNN he never made the oral sex or white wedding dress comments about Farenthold’s then-fiancée. He did admit to using the word f*cktard:
In a response to questions from CNN, Farenthold denied in a statement ever making comments to Rekola about receiving oral sex from his then-fiancée or whether she could wear a white dress. He acknowledged that he regularly referred to aides as “f**ktards,” but that it was “in jest, not in anger.”
“In hindsight, I admit it wasn’t appropriate,” Farenthold said. He also denied that he engaged in regular verbal abuse of his staff.
Rekola’s account is an important reminder that improper behavior and sexual misconduct aren’t exclusive to females. There are male victims, too.DONATE
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