WASHINGTON (KWTX) U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, 68, a Republican from Ennis, won’t seek re-election after a nude photo of him circulated on social media, the Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis. (File)
Barton didn't mention the scandal in announcing his retirement.
"I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas," he told the newspaper.
"...There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
News of the photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, broke a week ago.
The Waco native, released a statement on Nov. 22 to the Texas Tribune acknowledging that while separated from his second wife, prior to their divorce, he had sexual relationships "with other mature adult women."
He said each relationship was consensual and has since ended.
"I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down,” he said at the time.
Barton had announced a re-election bid earlier this month.
Barton joined the U.S. House in 1985.
He's the longest-serving member of Congress from Texas.
He was born in Waco and graduated from Waco High School.
A conservative activist who exchanged online messages with Barton says she felt uncomfortable when he occasionally steered the topic toward sexual themes, but for years dismissed it as "that's just Joe."
Facebook Messenger exchanges between Kelly Canon and Barton from 2012 featured him asking her things like if she was wearing panties. Barton was married to his second wife at the time.
Canon, a tea party organizer in suburban Dallas, said "97 percent" of their exchanges were about politics or things like football.
She said when Barton "steered the conversation south" she would "shut it down."
She said she decided to release the messages after Barton didn't heed calls to resign following a nude photo of him circulating on social media last week.