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 stop 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 forestall a member of Congress from ever doing that once more. It’s referred to as the Dangerous Lawmakers Accountability and Key Emends Act ― the BLAKE Act.
“Generally 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 that they had 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 satisfy with ex-lawmakers like Farenthold.
Right here’s an advance take 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 stated, lawmakers can nonetheless draw from a taxpayer-financed fund to make preliminary funds on settlements, with the concept being that they need to pay again the cash. Walker’s invoice wouldn’t change that. However within the occasion a lawmaker tapped that account and stop Congress with out repaying it, Walker stated his invoice would stop 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,” stated Walker. “There’s a basic drawback with that idea.”
The North Carolina Republican stated he determined to push this invoice as a result of it bothered him that there’s a way exterior Washington that legislators don’t need to observe the identical legal guidelines as everybody else.
“I feel Washington must take the lead in cleansing up its act,” Walker stated. “That is one step in having the ability to transfer ahead to say, pay attention, we have to be governing our personal selves and never simply the folks of the USA.”
Walker stated he doesn’t have any co-sponsors on the invoice but, however he predicted it wouldn’t be exhausting to drum up help. He chuckled when requested if he’d been approached by Farenthold in a lobbying capability.
“Sarcastically, no. Look, I don’t wish to come throughout as God’s grace isn’t ample for all of us,” stated Walker, who’s a co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. “On the similar time, there are penalties for our actions and to look the opposite approach could be egregious.”
Farenthold gained’t be in Washington anytime quickly lobbying members. Earlier this month, he stop 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 stop Congress.