WASHINGTON ― It’s been a mystery why former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) abruptly resigned earlier this month.
But HuffPost has new details on what happened.
The House Ethics Committee was about to rule against Farenthold in its investigation into whether he sexually harassed members of his staff, used official money for campaign purposes and lied in previous testimony to the committee, according to the office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).
The committee gave Farenthold a heads-up about its coming decision, so he quit, per Speier’s office. Speier, who is not a member of the committee, has been one of Farenthold’s biggest critics and a vocal advocate for changing how sexual harassment allegations are handled in Congress.
By stepping down, Farenthold was able to avoid whatever punishment the committee was about to hand down. A House Ethics Committee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not clear what Farenthold’s punishment would have been. The panel might have required him to pay back the $84,000 he spent to settle a previous sexual harassment lawsuit. The Texas Republican promised in December that he would pay back that money immediately, but he never did. By quitting Congress, he has even less incentive to pay it back.
Leaders of the House Ethics Committee made it clear last week that they still want him to pay up, even if he’s not their colleague anymore.
“We encourage him in the strongest possible terms to uphold that promise,” Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the chair and ranking member of the committee, said in a joint statement.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.