Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is making the apology rounds after a photo surfaced on social media this week of him flashing his penis.
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement.
“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 added.
It’s unclear how the photo ended up in social media, but it’s a good bet that one of the women he was involved with posted it.
From The Texas Tribune:
Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business, and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.
In light of Barton’s bid for reelection, many GOP figures are wondering how he moves forward after this. A spokesperson for Barton said he has no plans to step down.
Update: Some are now suggesting that Barton is the victim of “revenge porn,” which is a crime in Texas. If the relationships were consensual and the images were sent in private to a willing partner, that may very well be the case.
From the Dallas Morning News:
In 2015, Texas legislators passed a “revenge porn law” criminalizing the act of intentionally disclosing pictures or videos “depicting another person with the person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct” without their consent.
Anyone found in violation of the law could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said the bipartisan law was passed “because it was happening so much and it didn’t fall under traditional harassment crimes.”
Edmonds doesn’t know enough about the Barton case to know if the law applies here. But said the law was “designed to address situations exactly like this, where a person from a past relationship who has consensually taken images decides to air those naughty pictures in an effort to harm the person they’re no longer in a relationship with.”
One of Barton’s opponents in his reelection bid signaled that she doesn’t see the pictures as relevant to the issues, saying that “a picture of him nude does not affect the district.”
“We need to understand how these images came to be in the public arena before [people] start attacking him,” Jayne Lynn Sanchez, who is running as a Democrat in Barton’s district, said according to Slate.com. She did however say that Barton exercised “poor judgement” in sending the photo.
“If you’re a public official I really think you probably ought to be a little more cautious about your behavior,” she said.
Featured image via Wikipedia