Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, apologized to his constituents in a statement Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that was published anonymously Tuesday on Twitter. The congressman said that he sent the photo to a woman he was in a consensual relationship with while separated from his second wife.
"I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down," the statement read.
According to The Washington Post, Barton threatened to report the woman to the Capitol Police if any explicit materials became public. The Post reports that in a recorded phone call from 2015, he warned her against using the material "in a way that would negatively affect [his] career."
The woman told The Post anonymously that her relationship with the congressman began online in 2011, when she posted about politics on his Facebook page. She told the paper that they began exchanging messages, which eventually turned into a brief sexual relationship.
Barton said in a statement that he believes the transcript of this phone call is evidence of a crime committed against him:
"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."
"The woman said she never had any intention to use the materials to retaliate against Barton," the Post reported. The woman also told the newspaper she did not post the image of Barton that appeared on Twitter Tuesday.
The Capitol Police could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rep. Barton was first elected in 1984, and is one of the longest-serving Republicans in the House.