Gov. Greg Abbott is demanding that former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold "cover all costs" of the special election to fill his seat using the $84,000 the Corpus Christi Republican used to settle a sexual harassment claim years ago.
Farenthold, who abruptly resigned earlier this month, had promised to pay back the $84,000 — which came out of a taxpayer-funded account — after that settlement was made public last year but hasn't so far.
In a letter to Farenthold on Wednesday, Abbott said the former congressman should return the money to taxpayers by funding the June 30 special election to finish his term.
"While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress," Abbott wrote. "I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election."
"This seat must be filled, and the counties and taxpayers in the 27th Congressional District should not again pay the price for your actions," Abbott added. He requested a response from Farenthold by May 2.
Farenthold's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Abbott's letter comes a day after he scheduled a special election to replace Farenthold, who abruptly resigned on April 6 amid mounting scrutiny over the 2015 settlement. After Politico revealed the settlement in December, Farenthold said he would personally repay the $84,000. Days later, he announced he would not seek re-election. Since then, hopes have faded he would pay back the money, especially after his resignation.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.