Congressman accepts police investigation, after nude of him photo emerges online

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas listens to opening statements from members of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2010, prior to BP CEO Tony Hayward testifying before an Energy and Environment subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the role of BP in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill.

AP

Rep. Joe Barton said he has accepted a Capitol Police offer to launch an investigation, after a nude image of him emerged online Wednesday.

The Texas Republican apologized to his constituents Wednesday, after the image from 2013 began to circulate. Barton said he engaged in consensual sexual relationships when he was separated from his second wife before their 2015 divorce. 

But some have pointed out Barton could be a victim of "revenge porn," a prosecutable offense. "Revenge porn" — when sexually explicit photos are posted without a person's consent online — was outlawed in Texas in 2015. The Washington Post on Wednesday published a transcript of a conversation in which Barton appears to tell a woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, images and video that he will make a report to Capitol Police if she exposed his actions.

"The Dallas Morning News has identified a potential crime against me and the transcript referenced in the Washington Post may be evidence," Barton said in a statement provided to CBS News. "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. Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment."

Barton swiftly apologized for the circulation of the image Wednesday, saying he is sorry for not using "better judgment." 

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," Barton said in a statement to CBS News. "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, who recently announced his reelection bid in 2018, was first elected to Congress in 1984. He has previously served as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

— CBS News' Catherine Reynolds contributed to this report 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.