The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics announced Thursday it is investigating sexual assault allegations against Rep. Blake Farenthold, after he reportedly settled a claim brought by his former communications director using taxpayer money.
The committee will determine whether Farenthold violated standards of conduct, or broke the law in dealing with the allegations brought by his former spokesperson, Lauren Greene, in 2014.
The Committee announced the formation of an investigative subcommittee following an Office of Congressional Ethics review into the matter, which began in Sept. 2015. It told the House Ethics Committee that it “did not find substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold engaged in the alleged conduct.”
New information about the nature of the settlement between the parties prompted the investigation of the matter, the Committee on Ethics said.
In addition, both Representative Farenthold and the Complainant have publicly expressed an interest in increased transparency in this matter, read a statement.
Politico reported last week that Farenthold drew from an Office of Compliance account to pay his accuser $84,000.
Greene sued her boss in December 2014, alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
She also claimed that a Farenthold aide said the lawmaker had sexual fantasies and wet dreams about her.
When she complained about the alleged misconduct, Farenthold improperly fired her, according to the report.
The Committee has sought to interview Greene.
The Committee on Ethics does not appear to be letting it lie with the Office of Congressional Ethics recommendation not to pursue further, Greenes attorney, Les Alderman told Politico.
Greene reportedly agreed to the interview.