House Ethics Committee member used taxpayer money to settle sexual misconduct complaint

Frederick Owens
January 22, 2018

Patrick Meehan (R) is being removed from his assignment on the House Ethics Committee after The New York Times reported that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former staffer.

According to The Times, Meehan professed his romantic desire for his decades-younger staffer a year ago after she began seriously dating someone outside his congressional office.

The Times said its account was based on interviews with 10 people including friends and former colleagues of the former aide. It does not name the aide.

Meehan, who resides in Drexel Hill, has represented Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district since 2011 and previously served as the Delaware County District Attorney from 1996 to 2001.

Meehan, a former Delaware County district attorney and USA attorney for eastern Pennsylvania, denies he harassed or mistreated the staffer. He is also a member of a bipartisan task force to end such violence. Meehan's communications director told the Times in a statement that the lawmaker "denies these allegations". John ConyersJohn James ConyersWoman accuses NY state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in U.S. hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE Jr. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, and the Nevada Democrat Ruben Kihuen have said they will step down in November. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken resigned earlier this month amid several accusations of unwanted groping and kissing.

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Meehan called on the former aide to waive the confidentiality agreement in the settlement "to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts".

According to the Times's report, Meehan's aide initially went to the congressman in 2016 to report that a senior male member of his staff had professed his attraction to her.

Life in the office became untenable, so she initiated the complaint process and ultimately left the job.

The woman filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment with the congressional Office of Compliance over the summer. The process, which includes mandatory waiting periods, mediation sessions, and nondisclosure agreements, demoralized her, according to the Times.

But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office past year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her - first in person, and then in a handwritten letter - and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate, the people familiar with her time in the office said. The ordeal spilled over to the woman's personal life, and she eventually moved overseas.

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