On Dec. 4, GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold promised to 'hand a check over this week.' He still hasn't paid a dime.
At the time, he said he was “going to hand a check over this week” for the full amount of his settlement.
More than 100 days later, Farenthold still hasn’t paid back any of the money — but Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) isn’t about to let him off the hook.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Speier detailed the excuses Farenthold has given since his Dec. 4 pledge to pay the money back immediately, noting that his justification for not following through “continues to change.”
“I urge you to make sure that Congressman Farenthold keeps his promise to the American people and reimburses the U.S. Treasury immediately for the full amount of the settlement,” Speier wrote, putting the pressure on Ryan to hold him accountable.
After breaking his initial promise to repay the money immediately, Farenthold then said he was waiting to make the payment until the House of Representatives passed a bill addressing the issue of workplace harassment. The House did pass that bill, at which point he changed his story again, saying he wanted to wait and see if the bill would pass through the Senate and, if so, whether Trump would sign it into law.
“Congressman Farenthold clearly has no problem with breaking his promise to the American public to repay the $84,000 in taxpayer funds he used for a settlement for his former aide,” Speier said in a statement to Vox.
With an estimated net worth of at least $5.7 million, Farenthold clearly has the money to repay taxpayers — and according to Speier, Republican leaders like Ryan could be doing a lot more to ensure that he does.
“They have the ability to force it,” she told the Huffington Post.
Farenthold is slated to retire at the end of his term in 2018, but Politico reported recently that he may be planning to step down early — a move that would allow him to avoid an ethics investigations into additional allegations of sexual harassment, as well as campaign finance issues and accusations that he lied in previous testimony to the House Ethics Committee.
All of this suggests that Farenthold is hoping to evade accountability for his wrongdoing, and based on Ryan’s inaction thus far, it appears that he is poised to let him get away with it — because apparently in the Republican party, personal responsibility only applies to those other people.