U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, has formally denied a former employee's claims that he sexually harassed and discriminated against her. Instead, he fired the staffer for “poor performance and failure to report to work,” his legal team said in federal court filings Thursday.
Lauren Greene, Farenthold's former communications director, alleges “gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment” in a wrongful termination suit filed in December against the second-term congressman. Greene worked for Farenthold from February 2013 until she was fired in July 2014.
In his response to Greene's suit, Farenthold denied that he directed a bevy of sexually charged comments at Greene.
“Defendant denies that Rep. Farenthold was 'attracted to' Plaintiff, that he had 'sexual fantasies' about Plaintiff, or that he had 'wet dreams' about Plaintiff,” the filing said.
Farenthold occasionally complimented Greene on her appearance, his lawyers said, but he also complimented other staffers – both men and women. He admitted that some staffers occasionally joked that the congressman “finds redheads attractive, but denies the allegation’s implication that this was a source for, or cause of concern for any staffer.”
In her suit, Greene claimed that Farenthold told staffers at a meeting that a "female lobbyist had propositioned him for a 'threesome.'" In his response, the congressman admitted that allegation, but denied that the woman was a lobbyist and denied the "implication that Rep. Farenthold told his staff about the proposition for an improper or lascivious purpose."
The filing claims Greene was fired after she missed several media events and lied about the circumstances.
Reporters and Democrats pounced on Farenthold earlier that month, when Roll Call reported that Farenthold registered the domain name “Blow-me.org” in 1999.