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Blake Farenthold says lawyers told him not to repay sexual harassment settlement

Updated 4:16 PM ET, Tue May 15, 2018

Washington (CNN) - Former Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold is returning to Washington to lobby lawmakers after resigning from Congress during an investigation into an $84,0000 sexual harassment settlement between the congressman and a former staffer.

Farenthold also said he won't repay the government for the settlement out of his own pocket, despite a past promise to do so.

"I will say this on the record: I have been advised by my attorneys not to repay that," Farenthold told ABC News on Tuesday. "That's why it hasn't been repaid."

Reached for comment regarding his decision not to return the funds, a man at his consulting firm, Farenthold LLC, told CNN over the phone, "That's been his statement for months even before he resigned from Congress. I can tell you that."

"I can tell you he's trying to get on with his life and probably not going to call a reporter back," the person added.

In February before he left Congress, Farenthold's communications director, Stacey Daniels, told CNN that the congressman had not cut a check yet and was "waiting on advice of counsel before acting."

Farenthold resigned from Congress in April, a few months after news broke he used taxpayer money to pay a settlement to a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment and other improper conduct. The former congressman previously vowed to repay the $84,000.

The comment comes as Farenthold enters a new role -- lobbying for the Calhoun Port Authority in Point Comfort, Texas, for a salary nearly equivalent to what he was making in Congress.

"As Legislative Liaison Blake will perform various duties for the Port, including increasing the Port's presence and visibility in Washington, D.C., with legislators, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Executive Branch, and other policy makers, along with working collaboratively with others to further the Port's agenda and to obtain public funding," a statement from the port authority says.

Calhoun Port Authority Port Director Charles Hausmann said Farenthold will be paid a $160,000 salary but would not say whether the former congressman would formally register as a lobbyist.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times first reported on Farenthold's new job.

Farenthold told the Corpus Christi radio show "Lago in the Morning" that his first day was Monday.

"I'm starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute," he said. "You're gonna have me listening and calling in a whole lot now."

The House Ethics Committee announced late last year it would investigate Farenthold for allegations of sexual harassment from his former aide, Lauren Greene, who received the $84,000 settlement after she sued him in December 2014 for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Farenthold resigned before the committee ruled in its investigation, after he was informed that the panel had finished its investigation, without being told the probe's results.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on Farenthold to pay $84,000 toward the special election to fill his seat, but the former congressman refused.


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