Blake Farenthold — a disgraced former Texas congressman who resigned last month — will not fund the special election to replace himself, he told Gov. Greg Abbott in a letter Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Abbott had asked that Farenthold pay for the election, set for June 30, as a form of recompense: Farenthold resigned in April, months after it came to light that he had settled a sexual harassment claim from a former staffer with $84,000 of taxpayer money.
That payment mechanism is allowed under federal law but has nonetheless drawn sharp criticism on both sides of the aisle since it was uncovered last fall. Farenthold had originally pledged to repay that sum to taxpayers, but has yet to do so, claiming he is acting on the advice of his lawyers.
Farenthold, who is worth well over $2 million, according to a recent financial disclosure form, has now said he won’t pay for the election either.
“Since I didn’t call it and I don’t think it’s necessary, I shouldn’t be asked to pay for it,” his letter said.
Neither Abbott nor Farenthold immediately returned a request for comment.
The special election was set for earlier than Texas law generally allows because, Abbott said, filling Farenthold’s seat in the Harvey-devastated Corpus Christi area constituted an “emergency.” Attorney General Ken Paxton gave Abbott the green light to call the election for next month. Nine candidates have filed for that race.