Ethics panel wants to interview Farenthold accuser

Rep. Blake Farenthold is pictured. | Getty Images

The Ethics panel had reached out to more than a year ago to interview Lauren Greene, who accused Rep. Blake Farenthold (center) of sexual harassment. But Greene declined to participate, hoping to put the matter behind her. | Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo

The House Ethics Committee is seeking an interview with Lauren Greene, the former aide to GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold who alleges she was sexually harassed by the Texas Republican.

Greene received an $84,000, taxpayer-funded settlement after she sued Farenthold in Dec. 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

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Even though the Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Farenthold, the Ethics Committee has continued to look into the matter.

“The Committee on Ethics does not appear to be letting it lie with the Office of Congressional Ethics’ recommendation not to pursue further,” said Greene’s attorney, Les Alderman of Alderman, Devorsetz & Hora PLLC.

Alderman said Ethics Committee staff has called him twice in the past two days seeking to schedule Greene to appear before the panel. “They are actively seeking Lauren’s cooperation with their ongoing investigation.”

Alderman said they are considering the request but did not know whether Greene would testify.

The Ethics panel had reached out to interview Greene more than a year ago. But Greene, who has tried to move on with her life since leaving Farenthold’s office, declined to participate, hoping to put the matter behind her.

However, after Greene spoke with POLITICO and CNN this week about being blackballed following her allegations, the Ethics Committee reached out again.

Alderman said Greene cooperated with OCE during its review and told them everything she had alleged in her court filing. Alderman did not know why OCE dismissed the case.

Farenthold’s spokeswoman said he has voluntarily testified before Ethics and OCE.

“Congressman Farenthold has testified before both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Ethics Committee of the House,” said Stacey Daniels, Farenthold’s spokeswoman. “He has done so voluntary, answering all of their questions.”

OCE’s decision not to ask for a full investigation into Greene’s allegations might be all that’s protecting Farenthold from the same fate as Democrats Al Franken (Minn.) and John Conyers (Mich.), both of whom resigned this week in the growing sexual-harassment scandal.

Farenthold, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders have referenced the OCE decision repeatedly whenever Democrats raise the Texas Republican’s case.

Both Farenthold and Greene were interviewed by OCE when during its investigation. OCE declined to comment on the Farenthold case.

In her lawsuit, Greene claimed another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also said Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

When she complained about comments Farenthold and a male staffer made to her, Greene said the congressman improperly fired her. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but the case was later dropped after both parties reached their settlement, which was not revealed until last week.

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