Texas Rep. Joe Barton is reconsidering his political future after a nude photo of him was posted online.
Earlier this week, an anonymous account posted the image of the 68-year-old Texas Republican. The image caught on in Texas political circles, promoted by Barton’s critics, which quickly led state insiders to wonder whether Barton might step down.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the posted image “appears to be a nude or partially nude man bearing resemblance to Barton. Parts of the man’s anatomy were blurred out with blue scribble lines.” The Twitter account that posted the image didn’t respond to the newspaper’s requests for comments; TMZ reported that the account claimed to have videos of Barton as well.
On Wednesday, Barton confirmed that the image was him in a statement to the Texas Tribune.
"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "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 told the Tribune that he was deliberating what it would mean for his political future. According to the Morning News, he is thought to be another possible Republican House member to retire heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
"You're as aware of what was posted as I am," Barton told the Tribune. "I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly."
Barton, the longest-serving member of the Texas delegation, represents areas south of the Dallas metropolitan area. He won reelection in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. In the presidential race, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, 54 percent to 41 percent, in Barton’s district.