WASHINGTON ― Keep in mind Blake Farenthold? He’s the previous Texas congressman who spent $84,000 in taxpayer cash to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, after which as an alternative of paying it again, he give up Congress and took a high-paying job lobbying Congress.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) remembers him. Walker plans to introduce a invoice on Wednesday to stop a member of Congress from ever doing that once more. It’s known as the Unhealthy Lawmakers Accountability and Key Emends Act ― the BLAKE Act.
“Typically in Washington, the irony of how issues like that come collectively is superb,” Walker informed HuffPost.
The invoice would ban former members from ever lobbying the Home or Senate if they’d spent taxpayer cash on a sexual harassment settlement after which didn’t repay the cash earlier than leaving Congress. Because the invoice can’t be utilized retroactively, Walker additionally plans to ship a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urging them to implement the spirit of his invoice and refuse to fulfill with ex-lawmakers like Farenthold.
Right here’s an advance have a look at the invoice’s textual content:
Farenthold, who follows this HuffPost reporter on Twitter, didn’t reply to HuffPost’s request for remark by way of direct message.
Congress overhauled its sexual harassment coverage in December and now requires lawmakers to pay out-of-pocket for settlements. Nonetheless, Walker’s spokesman mentioned, lawmakers can nonetheless draw from a taxpayer-financed fund to make preliminary funds on settlements, with the thought being that they should pay again the cash. Walker’s invoice wouldn’t change that. However within the occasion a lawmaker tapped that account and give up Congress with out repaying it, Walker mentioned his invoice would forestall them from ever gaining lobbying entry to their former colleagues.
“It’s an abuse of energy to make use of taxpayer funds to principally cowl up their actions after which go away and make a revenue off their time in Congress,” mentioned Walker. “There’s a elementary drawback with that idea.”
The North Carolina Republican mentioned he determined to push this invoice as a result of it bothered him that there’s a way exterior Washington that legislators don’t should observe the identical legal guidelines as everybody else.
“I feel Washington must take the lead in cleansing up its act,” Walker mentioned. “That is one step in with the ability to transfer ahead to say, pay attention, we must be governing our personal selves and never simply the individuals of the USA.”
Walker mentioned he doesn’t have any co-sponsors on the invoice but, however he predicted it wouldn’t be laborious to drum up assist. He chuckled when requested if he’d been approached by Farenthold in a lobbying capability.
“Sarcastically, no. Look, I don’t need to come throughout as God’s grace isn’t adequate for all of us,” mentioned Walker, who’s a co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. “On the identical time, there are penalties for our actions and to look the opposite approach can be egregious.”
Farenthold gained’t be in Washington anytime quickly lobbying members. Earlier this month, he give up his $160,000 lobbyist place at a Texas port authority “to pursue different pursuits and alternatives.” He had solely been working there since Could, which was proper after he abruptly give up Congress.