Note: Barton decided Thursday to not seek re-election. See story here.
An Arlington woman has shared a series of private messages — some with sexual overtones — she exchanged with U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, a week after he apologized for texting a nude photo of himself to another woman.
The messages, which were obtained by the Star-Telegram on Wednesday, included a mix of politics and questions about whether she was “wearing a tank top only ... and no panties.”
Barton and the woman exchanged the Facebook messages in 2012 and 2013 while Barton was still married to his second wife, Terri.
The woman involved in the exchange, Kelly Canon, said she and Barton had been exchanging messages on Facebook Messenger for several years, mostly discussing politics.
“He took it a step too far on rare occasions,” said Canon, who is active in the Republican party. “He was very fascinated with my attire, to the point of being inappropriate.”
Barton, a 68-year-old Republican from Ennis, on Wednesday confirmed to the Star-Telegram that the message exchange took place.
“I will affirm I did have that exchange, but nothing more,” Barton said in a text message.
His consultant said he apologized to Canon.
Canon said Barton did not apologize to her about the Facebook messages, nor did she ask for an apology.
Canon shared a collection of messages, including Barton’s question about her wearing panties after midnight on June 13, 2012, followed by him asking, “right now?”
She responded: “Ok, thats enough. You know my attire! Good night ....”
Barton responded: “answer me miss evasive.”
At 11:40 p.m. June 18, 2012, Barton sent a message: “wanna tell me what u r wearing or not wearing tonight miss sweet dreams.”
Canon responded that she was ‘still in my ‘regular’ clothes!’ ”
A week ago, Barton issued an apology for a sexually explicit photo he took and texted to another woman he was in a consensual relationship with years ago.
Monday’s meeting with Barton
Canon was at a meeting Monday when Tarrant County GOP leaders asked Barton not to run for re-election in 2018. Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O’Hare issued a statement sharing that sentiment.
Barton earlier this month filed for re-election but could choose to withdraw from the race.
Canon, a board member of the Arlington Republican Club and a member of the Republican Women of Arlington, said she has been thinking about the meeting since Monday.
“I did two days of soul searching,” said Canon, who also serves as a Tarrant County Republican precinct chair. “I got the feeling his ego was getting in the way.
“He actually thinks he can win” re-election, Canon said. “I thought maybe if I come forward maybe others will come forward too. ... Someone has to step up. This is a pattern.”
Canon, who helped lead a successful effort to get rid of red light cameras in Arlington, made an unsuccessful bid for Arlington City Council in 2016.
Monday night, Barton told the local Republicans that he’s gauging feedback and that a consulting firm is polling many party faithful to see if his behavior and the nude photo would make a difference in the March primary.
Those are factors he indicated he will consider, along with feedback from family and Republican colleagues in Washington, D.C., before deciding whether to run.
Filing for slots on next year’s March 6 primary ballot runs until Dec. 11.
Barton has represented the 6th Congressional District, which includes most of Arlington and Mansfield and all of Ellis and Navarro counties, since 1985.
The Facebook messages
Other messages shared by Canon include:
On Oct. 2, 2013, Barton messaged her that “men are men ... and u r definitely a sexy woman.”
When Canon responded that “all the good ones are married,” Barton replied: “I dont know about good ... but I am married.”
“Well, that means you’re one of the ‘good’ ones, then!” Canon said.
“Thank u,” wrote Barton.
“Just calling ‘em as I see ‘em!” Canon wrote.
Barton replied: “but ... I am not thinking good thoughts at this moment ... blush.”
Canon said she and Barton never had a physical relationship.
“Oh, hell no,” she said when asked. “I never even considered that.”
Canon did say she believes it’s “inappropriate for a congressman to be talking to a constituent like that. ... He wouldn’t say that if I was a guy.”
Divorce records filed in Waxahachie show that Joe and Terri Barton were married May 29, 2004, and stopped living together on or around February 2014. Their divorce was signed Feb. 25, 2015.
The nude photo
As far as the nude photo that surfaced online, Barton has said he doesn’t know how the photo ended up on Twitter; it was posted through an anonymous account.
“I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days,” he said in a statement released to several media outlets before Thanksgiving. “I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”
The unidentified woman he sent the text to told The Washington Post that she did not post the photo on social media. She has also said that Barton threatened to contact Capitol Police if she exposed his secret sex life.
She told the Post that she had a “secretly recorded phone conversation” with Barton who asked her not to use the pictures “in a way that would negatively affect my career.”
Barton later said the Capitol Police offered to begin an investigation, an offer that he has accepted, and would no longer comment on the matter.
A question left unanswered is whether Barton could be a victim of revenge porn, which is when someone posts sexually explicit photos and videos of an ex online to get revenge after a breakup.
Texas lawmakers in 2015 passed the Relationship Privacy Act to crack down on a growing number of revenge porn cases.
The congressional race
If Barton were to resign from the seat, there could be a special election next year that both parties could target.
Republicans privately say that some within the community — including Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright, a former chief of staff and district director for Barton — are being considered as potential candidates if Barton decides not to seek re-election.
Republican J.K. “Jake” Ellzey, a Texas Veterans Commission member who lives in Midlothian, has filed to run for the post.
As for Democrats, several have already filed.
Ruby Faye Woolridge of Arlington, who ran against Barton in 2016, has filed to run for the post again. So has Jana Lynne Sanchez, a public relations specialist from Arlington, and Levii R. Shocklee of Arlington.