The photo of a naked Mr. Barton, with his private parts darkened before publication, sparked waves of speculation in Texas and Washington, where badual harbadment charges are shaking Capitol Hill. The tweets, which appeared on Monday, included an image of a badually explicit text message, apparently sent by Mr. Barton, along with a cryptic reference to the harbadment.
It was not clear why the photo was published. Lawmakers called and texted on Tuesday night and Wednesday trying to discern if the photo was authentic, but received no guidance from party leadership or Mr. Barton.
AshLee Strong, spokesperson for President Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said that Mr. Ryan had spoken with Mr. Barton about the matter, but that "he would keep those conversations between the two."
Mr. Barton is the most senior member of the Texas congressional delegation and was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee when President George W. Bush was in the White House. He used that perch to promote the interests of his state's oil and gas industry and even faced some Republicans when his committee investigated scientists who were researching climate change.
He had looked down more recently, telling badociates he expected to claim the research subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce panel. The presidency of that subcommittee is currently vacant because its most recent president, Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, resigned last month after it was revealed that he had encouraged his mistress to seek an abortion.
Unlike other veteran legislators who have retired after their time at the top the influential committees have come to an end, Mr. Barton showed no interest in leaving Congress.
"I'm the stranger who did not give up," he joked in The Dallas Morning News in an interview this month.  Continue reading the main story
His personal life has been more turbulent than his political career. He divorced his first wife in 1993 and his second wife two years ago.
Mr. Barton has young children from his second marriage, and one of them, his 10-year-old son, was in baseball practice in Congress earlier this year when a man sprayed the field with bullets, seriously injuring Representative Steve Scalise, Majority bad, a lobbyist and a capitol police officer. Another police officer was also injured. Mr. Barton is the veteran coach of the Republican baseball team.
The Democrats did not plan to aggressively challenge Mr. Barton's conservatively inclined seat: his best-funded Democratic rival, Jana Lynne Sanchez, had only $ 16,440 on hand as of the beginning of October.
Continue reading the main story