U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold settled a sexual harassment claim brought by a former staffer with $84,000 in taxpayer funds, according to a Politico report published Friday.
Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, has served in the U.S. House since 2011. The settlement stems from a 2014 case brought by Lauren Greene, a former Farenthold staffer. Both parties agreed to drop the case in 2015 but the terms of the settlement were not clear at the time.
After Politico published its report Friday, Farenthold said in a statement, "While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question."
NBC News later confirmed the Polico report.
Farenthold's settlement is a small part of a much larger well of money used to settle workplace issues stemming from the U.S. House. On Capitol Hill, more than $17 million in taxpayer funds has been spent since 1997 to settle all kinds of workplace disputes — among them sexual harassment.
The fund, managed by the Office of Compliance, is under heightened public scrutiny after a wave of sexual assault accusations against members of Congress. The account was meant to protect the workplace rights of congressional staffers. But by keeping cases confidential, critics say the public money is being used to shelter the unnamed sexual harassers, and potentially endangering more victims.
The Texas Tribune's Alexandra Arriaga contributed to this report.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.