GOP Congressman Patrick Meehan Reportedly Settled His Sexual Misconduct Case With Taxpayer Dollars

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pennsylvania), a House Ethics Committee member and vocal opponent of sexual harassment in Congress, settled his own misconduct case.

Patrick Meehan

Image via Getty/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Patrick Meehan

Just after thousands have gathered in protest at the 2018 Women’s March, a new harrowing sexual harassment case has come to light. A New York Times report has emerged alleging that Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pennsylvania), a House Ethics Committee member and vocal opponent of sexual harassment in Congress, settled his own misconduct case. The story details how Meehan “used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her.”

Meehan, 62, allegedly began showing interest in the young woman's life, and she in turn considered him a "father figure," according to those sources privy to the situation. Their friendship took an awkward turn when the woman got into a serious relationship, prompting Meehan to profess his attraction to her both in person and in a letter. Meehan reportedly became "hostile" toward her when she denied his advances.

According to the NYT, the aide became so uncomfortable that she filed a formal complaint, began working from home, and eventually resigned. Later on, she and Meehan reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount paid directly from his congressional office fund.

The fallout from the expose on Meehan resulted in his removal from his post. A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) told the Times that Meehan “was being removed immediately from the House Ethics Committee, where he has helped investigate sexual misconduct claims.” In addition, Ryan is urging the Pennsylvania congressman to “repay the taxpayer funds” he swiped in order to settle the complaint.

Meehan, however, is telling a different story. In a statement issued to Roll Call, he refuted the claims.

“Congressman Meehan denies the allegations,” his spokesman John Elizandro stated via email. “Throughout his career he has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”

The irony of Meehan being tangled up in such a scandal given his work to combat sexual misconduct is quite glaring. He built a reputation as a prosecutor in Pennsylvania leading the charge against sexual assault. In July of 2016, Meehan helped introduced the "Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act of 2016," which requires owners and employees of massage parlors to report allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement.

Meehan's people have requested his accuser's attorneys to release all parties from the confidentiality requirements of the agreement "to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts."

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