UPDATE: 3:00 PM 11/30/17
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton today bowed to public pressure. In a written statement he said he will not run for reelection in 2018. A spokesman, however, told the Star-Telegram Barton intends to fill out his term. That means he’d continue to represent the 6th Congressional District for another year, until a newly elected representative takes the seat in January of 2019.
We continue to call for Rep. Barton to step down now. The Editorial Board believes voters are best served by a congressman who can spend the next year focused on the serious issues facing our country, and not the distracting swirl of sexual disclosures that will make him less effective.
The evidence of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton making unwanted sexual advances to women is mounting. The Star-Telegram has learned it isn’t just one woman anymore, and there’s no way of knowing who else may come forward with additional disturbing details.
This Editorial Board wrote Monday the initial incident of his texting a nude photo was enough for him not to seek re-election in 2018.
It illustrated bad judgment and a lack of the high moral standards we should expect of our elected officials. Barton also appeared to use his political clout to threaten a Capitol Police investigation if the woman disclosed the incident.
And how can he be effective? Who can take him seriously in a debate about tax reform, healthcare or immigration while visualizing that nude photo which went viral on Twitter?
We said Monday that Barton needed to find a new job when this current term is complete.
Now we’re saying: Joe, don’t wait. Step down now. Don’t run for re-election. Give up your seat. You can no longer be taken seriously and the citizens of the 6th Congressional District deserve a better role model.
The second revelation Wednesday involving sexually suggestive Facebook messages came from an Arlington woman active in the Republican Party.
We appreciate that Kelly Canon took a risk, sharing her identity and Barton’s graphic messages with the Star-Telegram.
During the Facebook conversation about political matters on Oct. 2, 2013, Barton told Canon she was a “sexy woman” and he wanted to know what she was wearing. He persisted with his query asking if “u r wearing a tank top only..and no panties?”
Canon decided to reveal the conversation after she and other local Republicans met with Barton on Monday night, and she became convinced he would seek re-election despite the scandalous disclosures.
“I thought maybe if I come forward maybe others will come forward too. … Someone has to step up,” Canon told Star-Telegram reporter Anna Tinsley.
Canon is right. Women who’ve been the targets of sexual harassment and assault should step up. It’s been difficult because there’s been fear of reprisal. There is, however, a new level of public support for identifying and stopping this disturbing behavior by public officials and other men in power. And if men have been subjected to this sort of behavior they should come forward, too.
We are at a unique place in what has been business as usual. There is an opportunity right now to educate perpetrators who seem dumbstruck by public outrage, and to put the fear of God in those who know it’s wrong but continue to harm and humiliate women.
Joe Barton has acknowledged the two incidents we know about. He’s said he’s sorry he sent the nude photo.
Now he needs to say good-bye.