Rep Blake Farenthold Used Taxpayer Funds in $84K Sexual Harassment Settlement: Report

By Sam Dorman

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) reportedly used funds from Congress’s controversial Office of Compliance in an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement.

According to a report from Politico, Farenthold’s settlement came as part of a claim from Lauren Greene, his former communications director, that he sexually harassed her. Greene accused Farenthold of improperly firing her when she complained about Farenthold’s alleged inappropriate comments to her.

Greene claimed Farenthold drank excessively, among other things, and said he had sexual fantasies about her:

Greene claimed in the lawsuit that another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

While no information was released regarding a private settlement Greene reportedly reached with Farenthold, Politico obtained a joint statement in which the two said they would settle in order to save taxpayer money:

“[A]fter it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers — the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” the statement read. “After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator.”

The statement added: “The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.”

The statement also states that Farenthold “disagrees strongly” with his client’s allegations and “adamantly denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing.” It says the settlement included a confidentiality agreement that precludes Greene and Farenthold from discussing the case and “expressly provides that both parties deny all liability.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Greene’s claims but concluded “there is not substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against [ex-staffer Lauren Greene], or engaged in an effort to intimidate, take reprisal against, or discriminate against [Greene] for opposing such treatment, in violation of House rules and federal law.”

Editor’s note: This story’s headline was updated to ensure clarity.

U.S. Rep. apologizes for graphic online photo…

 

Texas Congressman Joe Barton released a statement Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week. He announced his re-election bid earlier this month. 

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.” 

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business, and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.

In a phone interview with The Texas Tribune on Tuesday, Barton said he was deliberating that.

“You’re as aware of what was posted as I am,” he said. “I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly.”

A spokeswoman said Wednesday he had no plans to resign and had filed for re-election.

Texas passed legislation in 2015 making revenge porn a class A misdemeanor, defining the crime as posting sexual or nude images or videos of non-consenting adults. Images taken by consenting adults with a “reasonable expectation of privacy” constitute “revenge porn” when distributed without the subject’s consent, according to a blog post by Houston lawyer Brett Podolsky. Even threatening to distribute the material is illegal under state law.

Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said too many details of Barton’s specific case were unknown to determine whether the leaked photo might constitute revenge porn under Texas law.

“What I can say is that the law was created in 2015 in part to kind of address situations like this, where an image that was taken during the course of a consensual relationship is later aired in public after that relationship has ended, usually ended badly,” Edmonds said. “That’s exactly the kind of situation that brought about the new law.”

Currently, there are no federal laws explicitly addressing revenge porn.

Barton, the former chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce committee, joined the House in 1985 and is the longest-serving member of Congress from Texas.

If Barton were to choose not to run for re-election, it would be sure to set off a frantic race to replace him. His 6th district, stretching from the Dallas-Fort Worth area into East Texas, is heavily Republican territory, so the GOP primary would be the battlefield. The filing deadline for the 2018 primaries is Dec. 11.

Soon after the news broke Wednesday, state Sen. Konni Burton, a Fort Worth Republican whose district overlaps with Barton’s congressional district, batted down rumors that she might consider the seat.

“To supporters & donors who are asking me to make a congressional run & to those who are hearing the rumors, I thank you for thinking of me,” Burton tweeted. “However, I am totally committed to SD10!”

Jana Lynne Sanchez, a Democrat running for Barton’s seat, said in a statement that there was a “larger issue” at play than Barton’s personal life.

“Texans, just like all American people, are tired of poor behavior of elected officials distracting us from the real issues affecting us – the unbearable cost of healthcare, the poor and sliding quality of public education and the lack of good jobs for our high school graduates,” Sanchez said. “No matter who the Republican nominee is, I look forward to a civil and respectful campaign on the issues – not one sullied by personal attacks.”

Barton’s apology came near the end of what has already been a difficult year for him. As the manager of one of the congressional baseball teams, Barton and his two sons were on the field during practice in June when a gunman began firing. Barton recalled that his sons took cover during the shooting, one under an SUV and the other in the batting cage. He attributed his safety to the Capitol and Arlington police officers on duty that day.

Patrick Svitek and Matthew Choi contributed to this report.

 

Ted Cruz: Media Should ‘Ask Democrats the Very Same Questions About Sen. Menendez’ Being ‘Asked About Judge Moore’

by DR. SUSAN BERRY

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) acknowledged that the allegations made against Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama Judge Roy Moore are “deeply concerning,” he challenged members of the media on Monday evening to ask Democrats “the very same questions” about Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) that are being asked about Moore.

Capture

The Texas Tribune (subscription required) published the interview with Cruz, who reportedly said, “As it stands, I can’t urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious, persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true.”

Cruz, however, went on to say:

I would note that the media is understandably very eager to cover every aspect of this. For every reporter asking every Republican if Judge Moore should be elected, I would note for sake of consistency, those same reporters should ask every Democrat if Senator Bob Menendez – currently being prosecuted for multiple felonies including allegations that are deeply, deeply concerning – for fairness and consistency, reporters should ask Democrats the very same questions about Senator Menendez that are being asked about Judge Moore and in my view anyone who commits serious criminal conduct of type alleged should not be serving in the United States Senate:

Capture

Concerning the allegations against Moore, Cruz said:

 At this point, I have seen newspaper stories recounting their allegations. I don’t know if those allegations are true or false. You don’t know if they are true or false. That, ultimately, will be a choice for the voters of Alabama and perhaps for the criminal justice system. These allegations are very serious, and I believe the only way this campaign can remain viable is for Judge Moore to come forward with serious and persuasive responses that convince the people of Alabama that the charges are not true.
Cruz added that Moore is “entitled to present a defense,” but if the allegations are true, “he should drop out now, tonight, so that the people of Alabama are not given an untenable choice between a candidate under a serious cloud of potential criminal conduct or a liberal Democrat who would vote for policies inconsistent with what the people of Alabama want.”

GRAPHIC: Mexican Border State Businessmen Targeted for Cartel Executions, Extortion

by CARTEL CHRONICLES14 Nov 2017

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Tamaulipas — The cartel violence in the capital of this border state appears to have no end as rival organizations fight for control. Recent bloodshed led to five deaths and some close calls. Three of the people who died were gunmen extorting local businessmen when police arrived and triggered a shootout.

The majority of the violence occurring in capital can be attributed to the ongoing war between members of the Gulf Cartel and their allies with the Zetas Vieja Escuela against Cartel Del Noreste (CDN).

Authorities confirmed the shooting took place in the El Palmar neighborhood, an area in the city’s southeast, which is considered low-income. Police previously received a complaint from a businessman claiming that cartel members would extort him.

Law enforcement moved in when they learned that gunmen were going to the business to collect. As authorities arrived, the gunmen began a short firefight where leaving three cartel members killed with their weapons seized. Police did not release the names of the criminals but confirmed the existence of the extortion operation.

Soon after, authorities responded to a rural area near the highway that connects this city with Jaumave, where they found the body of a 25-year-old man shot to death. The victim was found facing down with his hands tied and appeared shot in the head.

In a separate violent incident, a group of gunmen riding a motorcycle shot at a man and managed to flee. The victim was walking along a sidewalk near the state offices of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) at the time. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the area and transported the man to a local hospital. Soon after that attack, police responded to the Vamos Tamaulipas neighborhood, where an unknown number of gunmen murdered 40-year-old Emilio Flores Gutierrez inside his convenience store.

The Vamos Tamaulipas neighborhood is considered an area of extreme poverty. The victim died after being shot in the chest. His wife claimed that she did not see the gunmen since she was inside their house.

The spike in violence is linked to the ongoing rivalry between the Gulf Cartel/Vieja Escuela Zeta versus the CDN for control of drug trafficking routes, kidnapping rings, and extortion schemes.

To date, neither local, state or federal authorities have been able to successfully stop the wave of violence that continues to envelop this city as drug cartels continue to operate.

Judge Rules DACA Recipients Have Due Process Rights

by BOB PRICE  9 Nov 2017Seattle, WA

A federal judge in Seattle, Washington, ruled that illegal aliens receiving amnesty under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cannot have their status revoked without due process.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, appointed by President George W. Bush, said illegal aliens have due process rights and that DACA cannot be canceled justification, The Washington Times reported.

“While the Court recognizes and acknowledges that DACA does not confer lawful status upon an individual, the Court also finds that the representations made to applicants for DACA cannot and do not suggest that no process is due to them, particularly in Plaintiff’s case where benefits have already been conferred,” Judge Martinez stated in his ruling.

The judge did not explain what due process procedures might be acceptable.

“What process is due, and whether Plaintiff received such process, are ultimately questions for another day. But at this stage of the proceedings the Court is satisfied that Plaintiff has raised a plausible due process claim that will not be dismissed,” Martinez explained.

Texas and nine other states announced they would sue the Trump Administration if it did not end the DACA program in June, Breitbart Texas reported. The states threatened to add DACA to an existing lawsuit that effectively ended Obama’s other amnesty program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

“We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program,” Texas Attorney General Paxton and the coalition wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Just like DAPA, DACA unilaterally confers eligibility for work authorization and lawful presence without any statutory authorization from Congress.”

“For these same reasons that DAPA and Expanded DACA’s unilateral Executive Branch conferral of eligibility for lawful presence and work authorization was unlawful, the original June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum is also unlawful,” the letter continued. “The original 2012 DACA program covers over one million otherwise unlawfully present aliens.”

As the deadline for the threatened lawsuit approached, Attorney General Sessions announced the Trump Administration would end the DACA program, Breitbart News reported.

“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated by the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions said. The attorney general later called for an “orderly and lawful wind-down.”

President Donald Trump put the responsibility for a DACA replacement program in the laps of congressional leaders — giving them six months to act or he would revisit the program, Joel Pollack reported for Breitbart News.

Shortly after the administration’s announcement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the states would drop the threatened lawsuit.

Paxton and other officials from 10 states were hit with major pushback efforts by the open borders lobby to drop their lawsuit against DACA, Breitbart Texas reported.

Church Shooter Kelley ESCAPED From PSYCHIATRIC Hospital – Not In FBI Database

Church shooter Devin Kelley was, in addition to having convictions for domestic battery on his wife and stepchild, at one point an escaped mental patient. The FBI database didn’t…

By Rick Wells

Background checks aren’t of any value if the information on the bad guys isn’t put into the databases. A dangerous individual with no record due to a failure to report looks the same as a safe, law-abiding one. That was apparently the case with Devin Kelley and the Sutherland Springs Church massacre.

We’ve been aware that the Air Force, under criminal-friendly Hussein Obama, failed to report his criminal historyto the FBI for insertion in their databases. Now we learn that he was also an escaped mental patient at one point in time and that that information, which would have made him ineligible to purchase a firearm,  was likewise never turned in.

In 2012 Kelley reportedly escaped from a psychiatric hospital in New Mexico where he was being held following his making death threats against his superiors. That same year he was also placed under a one year confinement and court-martialed for assault on his ex-wife and her child. there. He had also been caught attempting to smuggle weapons onto the base where he was stationed. The Air Force failed to report any of it.

Kelley had been held at and escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Services in New Mexico and was later apprehended by police in El Paso, Texas on June 7th, 2012. The Washington Times quotes a witness as telling police that Kelly “suffered from mental disorders and had plans to run to from Peak Behavioral Health Services” by purchasing a bus ticket to get out of the state.

That witness also stated that Kelley “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force base.” He stated Kelley “was attempting to carry out death threats” on his Air Force superiors.

The report indicates that the incident was put into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database but clearly it was not or the system broke down somewhere else. Two years later Kelley purchased a firearm inColorado and three more over the next three years, although his concealed carry permit was denied in Texas.

The US Air Force admitted that they failed to enter his domestic violence charge into the federal database but that clearly is only part of the system failures that played a role in the horrific incident at Sutherland Springs.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has personally ordered the Pentagon to “find out what’s going on.”