Ethics Panel Expands Probe into Farenthold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics Committee said Thursday it is expanding its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas.

The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining. The committee also said the panel would review allegations that Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff.

Lauren Greene is a former communications director in the congressman’s office. She alleged in a 2014 federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed and fired soon after complaining of a hostile work environment. Farenthold said when the case was settled in 2015 that he didn’t engage in any wrongdoing.

The committee had already been conducting a discretionary review of the matter and has examined more than 200,000 pages of materials and interviewed multiple witnesses. However, a press release announcing the subcommittee’s formation said the resolution of the case had been significantly delayed by difficulties in obtaining testimony from key witnesses and in accessing confidential documents the parties exchanged as the lawsuit was ongoing.

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