UPDATE: Texas Congressman Joe Barton is set to retire once his 17th term comes to an end.
His decision comes in the wake of a scandal involving leaked explicit photos he shared with a former lover.
While ThinkProgress predicts that the seat — which Barton has held since 1985 — will be filled by another Republican, this still comes as a blow to the party as he was a significant figure in the GOP establishment.
As an oil industry favorite, climate change denier, and strong opponent of most progressive views, he was a lawmaker that Republicans could count on to further their agenda.
Liberals, on the other hand, are glad to see him go.
1. Goodbye to Smokey Joe Barton, who broke new ground in abusing his committee chair to attack climate researchers in 2006. https://t.co/YC8QVQSCds— Aaron Huertas (@aaronhuertas) November 30, 2017
One positive thing today: pervert Joe Barton, who jerked off to a woman on camera who wasn't his wife, is retiring today. Thank God. Good riddance to bad rubbish! Let's get a Dem in that seat now!— Shada Escapee (@ShomahKhoobi) November 30, 2017
WE WON! Swamp partially drained.— Ali 🇺🇸 (@ali) November 30, 2017
Breaking: Rep. Joe Barton will NOT seek re-election. #TX06
🎶Another One Bites The Dust🎶— Luna Lovegood ✨💥✨ (@LunaLuvgood2017) November 30, 2017
Rep. Joe Barton Says He Won’t Seek Re-Election In 2018 https://t.co/Hysy1irwSb
At this point, Barton's best bet is to bow out gracefully amid this scandal as his reputation among both political parties and his constituents is forever tarnished.
Buried lede: Anti-gay right-wing conservative Rep. Joe Barton tried to silence the woman he was having a secret sexual relationship with after she discovered he was also engaged in other secret sexual relationships. pic.twitter.com/PMlUcNuWTm— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) November 23, 2017
It takes a certain kind of sicko to send a nude photo of himself to a woman, and then turn around and threaten to sic the police on her because of the photo.
Meet Republican Texas Rep. Joe Barton.
Barton's nude recently circulated on social media, prompting him to apologize. An anonymous Twitter account posted an explicit photo of the 68-year-old Republican, forcing him to confirm it was him in the picture.
“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,” he said in a statement.
While Barton focused on the photo itself, it's what he did after sending it that's the real scandal.
Soon after the apology, it emerged that in 2015, Barton threatened the woman who had his sexually explicit media, that he would report her to Capitol Police for fear that she might expose his behavior and it might “negatively affect” his career.
While speaking to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, the woman said that she was in contact with Barton for five years. She added that it began when she commented on his Facebook page in 2011.
After that, Barton began sending her sexually explicit photos, which lead to a few intimate physical encounters. During that period, the woman learned the Republican had sexual contacts with several other women, too.
When Barton discovered the woman’s communications with the other women, he called her and mentioned that he would report her to Capitol Police.
“I want your word that this ends. 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,” he said in the recording.
To that the woman responded, “Why would you even say that to me? The Capitol Hill Police? And what would you tell them, sir?”
“I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex 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,” said Barton.
The woman added that she had no intent to release the photos.
While responding to the sound recording, Barton said, “This woman admitted that we had a consensual relationship. When I ended that relationship, she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence in retaliation. As the transcript reflects, I offered to take the matter to the Capitol Hill Police to open an investigation. Today, the Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted. Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment.”
Barton joined the House in 1985 and is currently the longest-serving congressman from Texas. He said he has no plans to resign.
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