Washington, DC, USA : Following reports revealing that US Rep. Joe Barton of Texas had carried on multiple extramarital relationships before his 2015 divorce, the long term Republican congressman announced in a statement on Thursday that he will not seek another term. Joe Barton represents Texas’s 6th Congressional District – which stretches from the suburbs south of Dallas and Fort Worth into rural areas southeast of the metroplex – since 1984, making him fifth in overall seniority among Republicans.
“I am very proud of my public record and the many accomplishments of my office,” he said. “It has been a tremendous honor to represent the 6th District of Texas for over three decades, but now it is time to step aside and let there be a new voice.”
Joe Barton faced increasing pressure from local Republican power brokers, and a GOP challenger filed papers to run against him on Wednesday.
A lewd photo Joe Barton sent to one of those women circulated online last week, prompting Barton to apologize.
One woman who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity last week described a five-year relationship with Barton that began with an innocent Facebook message from the congressman that eventually led to explicit phone calls, text messages, photos and videos, as well as a pair of meetings. Both Barton and the woman said the interactions were consensual, but the woman said she felt deceived and betrayed after she learned about other women Barton was having similar relationships with.
The woman shared a recording of a 2015 phone call where Barton confronted her over her communications with other women he had propositioned. In that context, Barton mentioned the Capitol Police – a comment the woman interpreted as an attempt to intimidate her.
“I want your word that this ends,” he said, according to the recording. “I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation. And if I do that, that hurts me potentially big time.”
“Why would you even say that to me?” the woman responded. “The Capitol Hill police? And what would you tell them, sir?”
Said Barton: “I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily saxual and that I had met you twice while married and had sax with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn’t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That’s the truth.”
Barton called the recording “evidence” of a potential crime, citing a Texas “revenge parn” statute, and said the Capitol Police were now investigating. The woman denies any wrongdoing, including threatening Barton or posting the lewd photo publicly, and the Capitol Police have not commented on whether they intend to investigate.
Another woman, Kelly Canon, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a story published Wednesday that Barton had sent her inappropriate, saxually suggestive messages on Facebook in 2012 and 2013. “men are men . . . and u r definitely a saxy woman,” he wrote to Canon, who is active in Republican politics in Arlington, Texas.
Texas’s 6th Congressional District has a nine-point Republican lean according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, and supported Donald Trump by 12 points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election.
Barton is a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who is known on Capitol Hill as a fierce advocate for the oil and gas industry and a foe of environmentalists. He serves as vice chairman of that panel.
EARLIER : Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) Apologizes After His “Manhood” Starts Trending – U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) – who has served in the House since 1985 – has apologized for not using “better judgment” after a nude photo of him surfaced on social media earlier this week.
Barton’s acknowledgement that he appears in the photo emphasizes that the women he was involved with in the past, one of whom may have shared the photo, were above the age of consent and willing participants.
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had saxual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement Wednesday.
“Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down,” he continued.
The picture first appeared on an anonymous Twitter account and then began to circulate on the social media platform.
The lewd image comes at a time when many individuals are coming forward and accusing powerful figures in politics, media and other industries of saxual misconduct.
Republican officials in the Lone Star State are beginning to speculate about the political future of the Texas lawmaker, who announced his reelection bid earlier this month.
A spokeswoman for Barton confirmed the longtime lawmaker has no plans to step down.
Barton told the local news outlet he is talking to people about his next steps.
“You’re as aware of what was posted as I am,” Barton told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday during a phone interview.
“I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly,” he said.
Barton was previously chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee.