Disgraced ex-Texas congressman takes lucrative lobbying post

In this Dec. 19, 2017, file photo, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Less than 24 hours after the Calhoun Port Authority appealed a ruling in a Texas Open Meetings Act case, an appellate court in Corpus Christi denied it.

Bill Cobb, an Austin attorney who represents the port, filed an appeal at 7:33 p.m. Wednesday. Records show it was denied at 3:35 p.m. Thursday.

The port’s case with the Victoria Advocate stems from a May 9 meeting in which the port met in closed session for more than an hour. After it came out, Board Chairman Randy Boyd told Port Director Charles Hausmann to hire former U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold as a lobbyist.

The newspaper has argued that in order to comply with the Texas Open Meetings Act, the agenda for that meeting should have stipulated the board was meeting in closed session to discuss Farenthold and for what position. It did not. Farenthold’s position at the port is new and highly paid.

Cobb on Wednesday appealed District Judge Bobby Bell’s Monday ruling that the Victoria Advocate is allowed to take Hausmann’s and Boyd’s depositions.

Their depositions are scheduled for July 31, but it’s the port’s prerogative to appeal again, this time to the Supreme Court of Texas in Austin.

“It’s not surprising that this appeal was turned down so fast because it was a rather desperate ploy without any legal support,” said John Griffin, a Victoria attorney representing the newspaper.

Cobb could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Bell also ruled Monday that the Advocate is allowed to take Farenthold’s deposition for the case.

Bell has prohibited the Advocate from asking Farenthold about a settlement reached with his former employee. That employee accused Farenthold of sexually harassing her.

Tuesday, Farenthold’s attorney, John C. Dulske, filed a motion asking Bell several questions about his ruling. Specifically, does Farenthold have to hand over all his calendars, calendar entries and communications with the port? And must Farenthold give up any information he provided so the port could determine whether to hire him? Dulske, however, neglected to set his motion for a hearing to get Bell to answer these questions, so as far as Griffin knows, he is taking Farenthold’s deposition Aug. 1.

Several people saw Farenthold at the U.S. Capitol this week.

According to the Huffington Post, he was there on behalf of the port and did not contact U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan beforehand. The outlet quoted an unnamed staffer of Ryan’s who said, “Why would he (Farenthold) reach out to someone who repeatedly told him publicly he needs to pay the taxpayers back?”

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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