AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A conservative activist has released online messages she exchanged five years ago with Rep. Joe Barton in which he asked things like if she was wearing panties — a revelation that comes a week after the Texas Republican apologized for a nude photo of him that circulated on social media.
The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported Wednesday that it had obtained a series of exchanges on Facebook Messenger between Kelly Canon, a vocal opponent of red-light cameras and a tea party organizer in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, and Barton while he was still married to his second wife.
They included Barton asking after midnight in June 2012 whether Canon was "wearing a tank top only ... and no panties."
Canon didn't immediately return messages seeking comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday. Barton confirmed the 2012 exchange with Canon to the Star Telegram but declined further comment.
Canon told the newspaper that Barton hasn't apologized for the messages and that she's not asked him to. Barton, 68, is twice divorced.
Sexually explicit pictures of Barton surfaced last week from an anonymous Twitter account. Barton later suggested he could be the victim of online exploitation since he said he'd previously threatened to complain to authorities if a woman he'd been in a relationship with made public sexually explicit photos and videos of him.
Barton is Texas' most senior member of Congress. He announced last month that he was running for re-election and has yet to fully clarify whether he's changed his mind — even though the Republican Party chairman in his home county of Tarrant has called on him to resign by the end of the year.
On her Facebook page Tuesday, Canon posted, "Joe, DO NOT RUN FOR RE-ELECTION. Serve out your term. Retire." Barton this week also drew a Republican challenger in the state's primary March 6.
Speaking briefly to reporters in Washington on Wednesday — prior to the latest revelations — Barton wouldn't discuss his re-election plans or if GOP leaders are pressuring him to quit the House, saying: "I'm really in a bind here because I'm not supposed to say anything."
Asked what reception he got from colleagues at a closed-door House GOP meeting, Barton said, "Just understanding."
Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, http://www.star-telegram.com