US House ethics panel probing Rep. Blake Farenthold over harassment allegations

Bech Bruun has served as a board member of the Texas Water Development Board since

The House Ethics Committee said Thursday that it would investigate Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold for sexual-assault allegations in 2014 that led to an $84,000 settlement with a former staffer that was paid for by taxpayer money.

Greene alleged that she was sacked in July 2014 after complaining to Farenthold about being "bullied" by his chief of staff.

The committee said more information has come out about the settlement between the two parties. Lauren Greene worked as the congressman's communications director until she was sacked in July 2014.

Farenthold and Greene reached a mediated agreement in 2015 to avoid costly litigation, but the settlement's details were confidential, according to a statement released at the time, where Farenthold denied engaging in any wrongdoing.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, which is not affiliated with the House ethics panel, has investigated the matter and recommended that the committee dismiss the allegations against Farenthold.

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In a statement, the ethics committee said experts it interviewed determined that the information Nunes disclosed was not classified.

Nunes is expected to retake his position as the head of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russian meddling in the USA election that was effectively stalled while the allegations were reviewed. "I'm also pleased the Committee on Ethics recognizes, as per their statement, that I have cooperated fully with the committee's investigation and has acknowledged a decision has been delayed because of difficulty obtaining live testimony from other witnesses".

Peace, who worked for two years in Farenthold's office, told the Chronicle earlier this week that the congressman had always treated her with respect, although the atmosphere for many other women in Congress could be "toxic".

Peace said she brought her complaints to Farenthold and his top aides, but it is unclear whether congressional officials took any formal action.

In his response to Greene's complaint, Farenthold alleged that she was sacked for "poor performance".

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