USA News World News

GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold admits to regularly calling staffers one particular vulgar name, says it was ‘in jest’

Former aides to Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) have described his Capitol Hill office as a beer-fueled frat house where sexual innuendo and angry outbursts by the congressman are commonplace, and on Wednesday, another former staffer, Michale Rekola, provided some more details to CNN. “Every time he didn’t like something, he would call me a f–ktard or idiot,” said Rekola, Farenthold’s communications director for nine months in 2015. “He would slam his fist down in rage and explode in anger.”

Another former aide, Elizabeth Peace, confirmed that Farenthold would regularly use the word “f–ktards” on staffers, and Farenthold admitted doing so to CNN. He said he used the term “in jest, not in anger,” though “in hindsight, I admit it wasn’t appropriate.” Peace also confirmed Rekola’s account of crude sexual comments Farenthold made right before Rekola left town to get married. “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time,” Farenthold said, according to Rekola. He said Farenthold also joked suggestively that his fiancée maybe shouldn’t wear white on her wedding day. “Every staffer in that area heard it,” Peace told CNN. “It was the most shocking thing I’d heard him say at that point.”

Rekola developed serious stomach problems while working at Farenthold’s office, and after returning from his honeymoon, he quit. Farenthold’s treatment of staffers came to light with the news that he settled a sexual harassment claim by a former aide with $84,000 in public funds. He is not stepping down and plans to run for re-election next year, though he will face some strong challengers in the GOP primary.