Congressman Joe Barton of Texas reportedly has gotten caught sexting other women with whom he was in consensual relationships. Barton, a Republican, has represented a suburban Dallas district since 1985 and currently plans to run for reelection.
“Barton… admitted that a nude picture of him circulating online is authentic and apologized to his constituents,” Politico noted.
[See Updates below]
According to TMZ, an anonymous Twitter user somehow gained access and revealed Barton’s Anthony Weiner-style graphic selfie.
“The Twitter user censored the image, and also revealed a sext that reads, ‘I want u soo bad. Right now’… It’s unclear if the tweeter is the woman to whom Barton admits sending the photos — but the person claims he/she is being ‘harassed’ by Barton.”
Earlier today, Barton, 68, released a statement apologizing for the nude image, the Texas Tribune reported.
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women. 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.”
Barton, the vice chairman of the House Energy Committee, acknowledged to the Tribune that he was rethinking his plans for seeking reelection to Congress where he is the senior member of the Texas delegation. A spokeswoman indicated that he has no plans to resign from his current term of office.
Given that the image was presumably in connection with a consensual relationship, sharing it online might be a crime on the part of the responsible party in that it could violate the Texas revenge porn law, the Dallas Morning News observed. This offense is designated as a Class A misdemeanor in the Lone Star State, with a maximum penalty of one year behind bars and a $4,000 fine upon a conviction.
Earlier this week, Congressman Rep. John Conyers, 88, a Democrat who represents a Detroit-area district, currently the longest-serving House member, was accused of sexual misconduct with one or more women. The scandal was uncovered by filmmaker and author Mike Cernovich, who gave the scoop to BuzzFeed, which independently verified the documents obtained from Cernovich about Rep. Conyers. The lawmaker initially denied the allegations and any related settlement, but in a statement subsequently claimed that “My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
Last week, U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who was previously best known as “Stuart Smalley” from Saturday Night Live, was accused of making improper advances toward model/media personality Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO tour. Franken apologized to Tweeden, but there are calls across the ideological divide for him to step down. A second accuser has come forward to allege that she was groped by Franken while they posed for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
Weiner, a New York City Democrat, famously resigned from Congress in 2011 over a sexting scandal, and his bid for NYC mayor in 2013 imploded for similar reasons.
Watch this space for updates on the Joe Barton sexting scandal and related fallout.
Update: According to the Washington Post, Barton is on tape warning the unidentified woman in a 2015 secretly recorded telephone conversation that he would report her to the Capitol Police if she shared any sexually explicit materials publicly. The police agency has now launched an investigation.
“In an additional statement late Wednesday, Barton said he had a consensual relationship with the woman, who ‘threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence’ in retaliation for his breaking off the affair,” Fox News reported.
Barton and the woman, the Post claims, originally got in contact on Facebook in 2011 and maintained an active correspondence via text and social media messaging. They allegedly had sexual relations on two occasions, once in D.C. and once in Texas.
The woman allegedly shared explicit materials with other women who were involved with Barton.
In the Post article, she accused Rep. Joe Barton of being “manipulative and dishonest and misleading” in the way he dealt with women, including herself. “It’s not normal for a member of Congress who runs on a GOP platform of family values and conservatism to be scouring the Internet looking for a new sexual liaison,” she added. She also admitted that “I was in it for the politics connection.”
Update2: Joe Barton has announced he is not running for reelection.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]