Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for former Congressman Blake Farenthold to cover all costs of the special election to replace him. Earlier this month, Farenthold walked away from his job on Capitol Hill under the cloud of an ethics committee investigation into his use of taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim. That left District 27, from Corpus Christi to Bastrop County, without a representative.
Earlier this week, Abbott declared an emergency election to temporarily fill the seat. That vote is now set for June 30. A special election costs money, and Abbott says Farenthold should pick up the bill.
But Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, says Abbott cannot make Farenthold liable for the cost – and Congress can’t force Farenthold to reimburse taxpayers for the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement, either.
“What effectively everyone is trying to do is shame Rep. Farenthold into paying the $84,000,” Jones says. “Since he’s a millionaire, he could do it. But I think what we’ve learned during his tenure in Congress is that it’s very difficult to shame Rep. Farenthold because he really has no shame.”
Jones says the special election will cost District 27 taxpayers about $250,000 – and Abbott would like Farenthold to pay.
“However, in some ways the governor’s being a little disingenuous in that he didn’t have to call the special election as an early election,” Jones says. “He could have waited until November 6, at which point there would have been no additional cost.”
Jones says it’s unclear how Farenthold would actually go about paying for the election.
“It’s effectively the counties that are paying for the cost. He would have to write a check to all 13 counties to pay for the cost of his special election,” Jones says. “And that simply is not going to happen.”
Written by Jen Rice.