US lawmaker Joe Barton apologises after explicit photo circulates online

Barton (above, in a file photo) said he had sexual relationships while separated from his second wife.
Barton (above, in a file photo) said he had sexual relationships while separated from his second wife.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) Representative Joe Barton apologised on Wednesday (Nov 22) after an explicit photo of him was posted to an anonymous Twitter account and began to circulate online.

Barton, the vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a Republican from Texas, said he had sexual relationships with "other mature adult women" while separated from his second wife before their 2015 divorce.

"Each was consensual," he said of the relationships in a statement.

"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."

The photo circulating of Barton shows him in a compromising position. Though parts of the photo are covered, he appears to be naked.

The statement did not explain the origins of the photo or who posted it, which remained unclear on Wednesday.

The apology comes amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill, in media and in entertainment.