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U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, Texas Republican, will not run for re-election in 2018

Dec. 15, 2017: U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, Texas Republican, announced yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, that he does not plan to run for re-election in 2018. Farenthold, 56, has been in the U.S. House for seven years. Farenthold resigned amid a wave of allegations of sexual harassment against him. Farenthold, in a five-minute video posted on his campaign’s Facebook page, denied a former aide’s three-year-old allegations, but he also apologized for an office atmosphere that he said included “destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional.” Last week, the week of Dec. 3-9, 2017, three Members of Congress—two U.S. House Representatives and one U.S. Senator—who facing accusations of sexual harassment announced their resignations. Reps. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, and Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, have already left Congress while Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, has said he plans to resign soon.

Doug Kreulen hired as Chief Executive Officer, Nashville International Airport

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Doug Kreulen has been hired as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nashville International Airport. Kreulen succeeds Rob Wigington, who was fired. Kreulen was previously the Airport’s Chief Operating Officer. Kruelen’s hiring as CEO was made by the Metro Nashville Airport Authority’s Board at its regular December meeting held on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Kreulen will be paid an annual salary of $285,000, with the opportunity of bonuses up to 20 percent of his salary. The Board approved a three-year contract, with the potential for two, one-year extensions.

Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, Bullitt County Republican, commits apparent suicide at 57

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, Bullitt County Republican, killed himself by apparently shooting himself in the head Wednesday night, Dec. 13, 2017, as he faced sexual assault allegations from a woman who alleged that Johnson assaulted her four years ago when she was 17 years old. Johnson was 57. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died from a single gunshot Wednesday night, Dec. 13, on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area and got out. Billings says it was "probably suicide." He said an autopsy was scheduled for yesterday morning, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Johnson was elected to the Kentucky State Legislature in 2016. On Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an account from a woman saying Johnson sexually assaulted her in the basement of his home in 2013. Louisville Police Department officials investigated the matter but closed the case and did not file charges. Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, that the accusations were "totally false." He posted a message on Facebook Monday night, Dec. 11, 2017, saying that PTSD was "is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. It has won this life, BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME." On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Johnson acknowledged that he sent the victim a Facebook message shortly after the night she stayed over, but again said he did not remember what happened on the night of the alleged abuse because he was “drugged” at the bar, according to The Courier-Journal. He said he didn’t file a police report about the alleged drugging because he did not want to bring accusations against a bar. He later said at the news conference that he did recall what happened on that night--and said he never approached the victim while she was sleeping, according to the Courier-Journal.

Don Willett confirmed as U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for Fifth Circuit

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Don R. Willett was confirmed as a U.S Court of Appeals Judge for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Willett, 51, of Texas, is currently a Texas State Supreme Court Judge. He was appointed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 24, 2005, to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court when Priscilla Owen joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Willett was elected to the state post on Nov. 7, 2006, and he was re-elected on Nov. 6, 2012, to a six-year term that ends on Dec. 31, 2018.

Don Willett resigns as Texas State Supreme Court Judge

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Don R. Willett was confirmed as a U.S Court of Appeals Judge for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Willett, 51, of Texas, is currently a Texas State Supreme Court Judge. He was appointed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 24, 2005, to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court when Priscilla Owen joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Willett was elected to the state post on Nov. 7, 2006, and he was re-elected on Nov. 6, 2012, to a six-year term that ends on Dec. 31, 2018.

Andrea Thompson nominated as State Department Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Andrea L. Thompson was nominated as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Thompson, of South Dakota, is currently a Special Adviser at the Office of Policy Planning at the State Department. She was previously a Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser to the Vice President at the White House. She was also previously a director of the McChrystal Group Leadership Institute, and she was in the U.S. Army for more than twenty-five years. She received an M.S. from Long Island University and an M.A. from the National Defense University.

Matt Strickler appointed as Virginia Natural Resources Secretary

  
Dec. 15, 2017: Matt Strickler was appointed yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, as Virginia’s next Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources by Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam. Strickler would oversee six state agencies: the departments of Conservation and Recreation; Environmental Quality; Game and Inland Fisheries and Historic Resources; and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Strickler is currently a Senior Policy Adviser at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources. Also on Dec. 14, Northam appointed Bettina Ring as the Secretary of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Forestry. She will oversee three agencies: the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Forestry and the Virginia Racing Commission. Ring is currently the Virginia State Forester. Strickler would succeed Molly Ward, a former Mayor of Hampton, Virginia. Strickler received master’s degrees in marine science and public policy from the College of William and Mary. Ring, a former senior vice president at the American Forest Foundation, also worked at the Virginia Department of Forestry for fourteen years. She received a master's degree in business administration from James Madison University. She succeeds Basil I. Gooden, a former Virginia State Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.