Question: When does a sexually-charged incident obligate an elected legislator to resign?
Answer: When one or more of the following is true:
- When the legislator has been found guilty of a sex-related offense in a court of law ( or guilty of any crime, since law-makers must no be law-breakers.)
- When the incident indicates a bigoted and disrespectful attitude toward women.
- When the incident makes the legislator’s necessary status as a role model to children and others impossible to sustain,
- When the incident embarrasses the legislative body and calls its competence, integrity and trustworthiness into disrepute.
- When the incident calls into question the legislator’s judgment and trustworthiness.
With these standards in mind, let us examine the recent plights of two legislators, one Republican, and one Democrat. First, the Republican:
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.)
Farenthold, a tea party stalwart, is being sued by Lauren Greene, who was fired as his communications director. She alleges a classic “hostile work environment” scenario with all the trimmings:
1. She says, in the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court, that he frequently made sexual comments to her and about her to others,
2. That was often drunk, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on “red head patrol” so he would not get in trouble,
3. That his executive assistant, Emily Wilkes told her “that Farenthold had admitted to being attracted to Plaintiff and to having ‘sexual fantasies’ and ‘wet dreams’ about Plaintiff.”
4. That Farenthold’s chief of staff, Bob Haueter threatened to once send her home because “he could see Plaintiff’s nipples through her shirt.”
5. That when she complained to the Congressman, he told her to “stand up for herself.” [HAR!!!]
She says she was fired a month later. If these, or even a couple of them, (#3 might do it all by its lonesome) can be verified, yup, I’d say she has a winning lawsuit there. That’s what the accumulated law would call sexual harassment, of the sort that, in the EEOC’s words, “is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”
But wait! There’s more!
It also was revealed this week that Farenthold was the long-time owner of a Web site domain name which he apparently registered in 1999 as an, er, investment of the cyber-squatting nature…or, perhaps he was going to use it himself if the Dignified Member of Congress thing didn’t pan out.
The address is “www.blow-me.org.” Yes, he’s one classy guy, and his constituents must be so very proud. Then again, they elected him despite several photos like this that circulated when he was running….
…so they can scarcely say they weren’t warned. Yes, I’d say Farenthold, at this point, falls short of the resignation line. I think some kinds of cyber-squatting are unethical (like if you bought Jackmarshall.com), and owning porn sites is hardly ennobling, but unless he loses that lawsuit and the allegations are proven, he’s not a lot more embarrassing now than he was to begin with. And really, what’s the matter with duck pajamas in one’s past? If he appeared in public now in those duds, I think he’d risk crossing the line.
Now on to the Democrats, and
Joe Morrissey, Virginia Delegate (D)
To get right to the meat of the matter, Delegate Morrissey is in jail. He avoids, technically, at least, #1 above, because he wasn’t found guilty in a criminal matter and didn’t plead guilty: Virginia allows the so-called Alford Plea instead of the usual “guilty,” which means, “I know I’m going to be found guilty on the evidence, but I still think say I’m innocent and I’m sticking to that story, so there.” Morrissey pled to the lesser charge, a misdemeanor, of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.The Democrat from the 74th District had been charged with felonies, including child porn, that grew out of his relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist—a minor, in Virginia— in his law office. If convicted of all charges, he was facing 41 years in prison.
Admittedly, his dalliances with his receptionist were at the far end of statutory rape, but the law is the law. The evidence against him includes text messages from the alleged victim sent to her friend saying, “OMG so much I have to tell you but the most important thing is!!! I just fucked my boss tonight in our office on the desk and on the floor.” Morrissey’s friend was prepared to testify that he had received a text from Morrissey saying, “Hey, buddy I just fucked her on my conference table and again on the floor for good measure!” Morrissey then sent that same friend a nude photo of the young woman, hence the child porn charge. Morrissey had more than a dozen nude or semi-nude photos of his receptionist on his iPhone, but none showing him in duckie pjs.
Since Morrissey’s negotiated jail time is going to be over in 90 days, he had said that he was considering commuting to work (the conditions of his sentence allowed periodic release, with him wearing a monitoring device), and was not going to resign.
That’s not going to fly: he’s well over the line. Being sent to jail is enough; the slimy messages are enough, and the whole thing falls short of the minimum level of dignified conduct and deportment an elected legislator must be expected to meet. A Delegate attending meetings and voting on laws while wearing an ankle bracelet holds the state, the legislature and his distinct up to ridicule. He should resign, and check and see if Farenthold will sell him that web address cheap.
UPDATE: Faced with almost certain expulsion, Morrissey resigned today.
Bonus Quiz: Which of these stories the Washington Post gave most prominent coverage to?
Sources: WRC, Hampton Roads, Washington Post 1, 2
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
32 thoughts on “Two Embarrassed Legislators, Sex, And The Resignation Line”
Just when I thought people couldn’t get any slimier these two appear. Yech.
Morrisey is a virginia delagatee, purely a state level office. Farenthold is a member of the federal government. I wouldn’t expect the post to cover it as thoroughly. When I search, I can find articles from the post on each, but neither is on the front page, or on the main list under politics. Choosing VA politics, Morrisey is at the top. Choosing DC politics, still no Farenthold.
Not what I expected to find to be honest…
I no longer check WaPo very often, so I don’t know but am going to guess that it covered Slimeball #1 more rabidly than Slimeball #2. On the other hand, I had heard about Morrissey through my benign and nonpartisan news pushes (Patch, I think) but not about Farenthold. And since my husband is from Texas I do in fact have some Texas news delivered by e-mail, but I had not heard about Farenthold. So, what does all of that mean? Maybe it only means that I no longer pay attention to the Post as a primary news source. Possibly a good strategy for many of us.
AND I think that you are going too easy on Farenthold.
Well, I didn’t mention that he’s a silly fool, and makes me feel hopeless about the future of Democracy…but that wasn’t germane to the post. at this point we have untested allegations of harassment, and a racy website address—maybe he was going to sell bubble gum!—he hasn’t used.
Yeah, bubble gum, that’s what it was. yeah…
It’s a .org web address. He’s not trying to profit from it, he just wants to spread the message.
Made Coke come out my nose. Thanks.
Would love to have seen THAT!
And that comment has now killed Jack’s political career… Not that he cared, or that it wasn’t already dead anyway.
I’m pretty sure this comment killed it first…from the Michelle thread:
“If white people can’t behave normally with African Americans without this kind of unjustified nonsense, then they can’t be blamed for not hiring them, not associating with them, not taking them seriously.”
Stop doing so much coke. Problem solved!
I spoiled the joke by fixing the missing upper case C. Sorry.
People need to live with their choices. The people who voted for Farenthold wanted him to represent them and he seems to be doing a lot of representing. If they are not satisfied with how they are being represented, then they can make better choices in the future.
As far as Morrissey…are you sure that isn’t Robert Tilton?
This one is a toss-up for me. The felonies committed by the Virginia guy are pretty repugnant but Pajama Boy gives me the heebee jeebees (sp?). I vote that both should be ushered unceremoniously out the door.
Morrissey has an interesting history. When he was the chief prosecutor in Richmond, he started a fist fight with a defense attorney in the courthouse hallway. He lost his law license for a while, but then the State Bar re-instated him. I wonder if they’ll do anything this time.
Why are they always creepy looking?
“Why are they always creepy looking?”
Morrissey has the wolf in sheep’s clothing thing going on which is not only creepy but also disturbing because it has that sociopath feel to it.
Farenholdt doesn’t bother me as much because I don’t think he is trying to fool anyone. He just lets his creepiness all hang out.
If it was so “hostile” then why did she wait until she was fired ? This sounds more like a fantastic (and all too common in this era due to the lax definitions) revenge tactic to get a bunch of money claiming something which is pure gutterspeak (eg. the blah blah he-said she-said typical courtroom waste of time that usually lands on ‘she-said’ as the winner).
Whether true or not, her act of waiting until fired is not logical except under the case that this is just a nuclear tactic to piss him off after he pissed her off by firing her. Given them both baseball bats, and stick em in a room until one comes out a survivor. +1 to bring Gladiator rings back to resolve differences instead of tying up court systems with useless non-sense.
I don’t get your suspicion here. This is a pretty typical scenario: she likes her job, except for all the pigs and the frat boy atmosphere. On the Hill, you’re supposed to endure it for the perks: she complained, an got fired.
I interpreted it that she got fired and then complained a month later. Sorry, was a late night so a bit of dyslexia on that. I see it is she complained and got fired a month later. In which case, I retract my statement as that only applies in circumstances where the person was fired and THEN complained after.
Gladiator Rings only serve to dissipate potential instigators.
Well protocoled and supervised DUELING in another thing.
More was lost than was gained when dueling was completely outlawed rather than made regular in ways that avoid hasty actions and murder.
I keep expecting Farenthold to exclaim:”What? Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”
Sadly, there are people in my State (Texas) that will vote for anyone. Note that Wendy Davis actually got some 35% of the vote. Remembering my years living in Richmond, the same could be said of them. In actual fact, the same could be said of ANYWHERE! And politics seems to attract more than it’s fair share of jerks….possibly because of the power angle. Left to me, I’d say shoot ’em both and leave the bodies for the vultures.
Morrissey resigned yesterday and then announced he would be running to regain the seat in the special election set to fill it in January. I wonder if his “work release” conditons will be expanded to include his campaign appearances?
Though I much agree with ‘Sharon’ – A few zits like these may not actually be the problem and the zits may not actually be zits but the surface eruptions of a much deeper and broader corruption that if continues unchecked will kill the whole body. To my take on the evidence and the law our communities are in extreme mortal danger that has been creeping up with in us slowly for at least several generations. Though there may be nothing achievable to fix this, since it appears that all societies and nations eventually die, I am unable to believe this is so – largely because both 1) I can not bear it and 2) I see what systemic fix is possible and that the fix seems shockingly easy.
Why do people with solutions not mention those solutions? Just that they have them…
Fair enough, texaggo4 – No point in talking if no one is listening. So here is my rough (sort) best :
Reply Title “What we have in Virginia is a profoundly huge mess. How can you rationally expect YOUR government to abide by the rule of YOUR law when YOUR government has according to Virginia law become a VRICO organization run by habitual criminals?”
Virginia essentially beggars its legislators – we should not be surprised that, according to the statutes of Virginia, the officers of our government literally THIEVE whenever they can make such a plausible cover for it that the crime appears to be either 1) both customary and right, or 2) hidden.
Even though the wrong is plainly felonious under VA18.2-111 and VA18.2-481(5) the people of Virginia have made themselves party to the crimes against themselves.
After all it is well evidenced that it is wrong to proverbially “muzzle the ox that treads out the corn on the threshing floor”.
Yet Virginia already has its zero ‘gifts’ statute and has had it for a very long time.
One of the included meanings in VA18.2-111 “Embezzlement” is when a person receives a gift or ANYTHING from someone other than their employer that they received by virtue of their holding an office belonging to their employer then that thing received belongs to their office not to their person, If the receiver converts the ‘gift’ to their personal property then they have, according to VA statute, perpetrated embezzlement and larceny. Custom does not make it less of a crime.
That a thing received under the virtue of an office is received by the vested servant’s proxy or agent does not make is non-criminal.
That the customary crimes of our government’s officers
are given cover by unlawful ‘special’ ethics law for the ‘special’ people
does not eliminate the constitutional GENERAL ethics law of VA18.2-111 and VA18.2-481(5).
Also in Virginia, strictly speaking, the SPECIAL law is unconstitutional and void.
Those persons making, administering and holding to the special ethics law applicable only to the special people evidence that they are perpetrating the VA18.2-481(5) “Treason” of “Resisting
the execution of the (true) laws under the (mere) color of its (the true laws’ authority”.
By lawful Virginia statute every officer of the courts (including EVERY lawyer),
being under judicial supervision,
is deemed by statute according to their professional standing
to have taken notice of the laws whether pleaded or not.
EACH of those officers is conclusively evidenced in the public record as perpetrating daily and perhaps multiple counts of felony VA18.2-482 “Misprision of Treason”.
And so have become accessory-before-the-fact co-perpetrators in the consequent VA18.2-481(5) felonies.
What we have in Virginia is a profoundly huge mess. How can you rationally expect YOUR government to abide by the rule of YOUR law when YOUR government has according to Virginia law become a VRICO organization run by habitual criminals?
The only feasible, lawful and right way of ending a mess this huge and deep is for our Governor to adjudicate the criminal guilt of EACH by PARDON on the VIRTUE OF PENITENT PAROLE OATH.
And since beggaring our legislators just asks for trouble we should promptly pay our legislative representatives a FULL TIME wage for FULL TIME representative duty made explicit. I believe it can prove a good bargain for ALL.
Part of the problem with full time legislators is that they become full-time politicians and more remote from the people they presume to represent. All of the full-time legislators would essentially live in Richmond. While I don’t dispute that being a part-time legislator comes with substantial expense, both in money and time, the elected officials knew that when they ran for the job. Being a legislator is supposed to be a privilege and carries with it a duty–all of that has been forgotten by the full-time legislators in Washington, whose only duties appear to be loyalty to their respective parties and to remaining in power.
Agreed. That was the reason for the kicker ” a FULL TIME wage for FULL TIME representative duty made explicit”. To fix your concern and perhaps other concerns simultaneously how might you define “representative duty made explicit”?
A friend of mine proposed a draft lottery of one term ‘House’ legislators to avoid your complaint but that seems to be uncharted territory that may contain ‘dragons’. A more incremental approach is easier for me to understand even if not a better approach. Several increments can approach an extreme I suppose. Maybe start with proposed smallish steps in sequence?
Oh, and for the proposed solution scope ‘legislators’ includes all those with authority to make substantive (as opposed to procedural) law at all levels and divisions of government. ‘General Law’ once proved is less prone to catastrophe and damnation than ‘Special Law’, IMHO, so I hope that what we discover aspires to actually become Virginia+ ‘General Law’.