Speed Reads

Ask and you shan't receive

Disgraced former congressman Blake Farenthold tells Texas governor he won't pay for his replacement election

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) urged former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to use the $84,000 he's not returning to taxpayers to fund the special election Abbott forced through to fill Farenthold's Corpus Christi-based seat. On Wednesday, he got his answer: No.

"A special election was not warranted and should not have been called," Farenthold wrote in a letter to "Gregg" Abbott. "Since I didn't call it and I don't think it's necessary, I shouldn't be asked to pay for it." Most of the letter was spent defending his decision to resign in April and addressing the allegations that led him to settle sexual harassment charges by his former communications director, denying sexual misconduct and claiming he merely ran "a more informal office than some people may have expected from a career politician." Then he got a little personal:

On a personal note, I am sorry I didn't speak to you in advance about my resignation. ... I have found from past experience it is next to impossible for me, even as a member of Congress and long-time and active Abbott supporter (I even hosted an event for you at my house when you first ran for attorney general) to get a phone call with you scheduled. ... I am also disappointed you chose to release your letter to the media before talking to me first. I know you are an honorable man who is above cheap political shots, bullying, and kicking someone while they are down, especially a fellow Republican. I'll just chalk it up to bad advice from your staff. [Farenthold, letter to Abbott]

An Abbott spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, said Farenthold's decision is "disappointing" but "it's not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time." The special election will cost an estimated $200,000. "While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we're not closing the case on this issue," Matthews added.