World News

Rep. Patrick Meehan won't seek reelection following sexual misconduct claims

Rep. Patrick Meehan won't seek reelection following sexual misconduct claims

Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Meehan, who up until this week had been one of the House Ethics Committee members investigating sexual harassment charges, was revealed January 20 to have paid a taxpayer-funded settlement to an accuser a year ago.

Meehan, 62, helped lead the fight against sexual harassment in his role on the House Ethics Committee until a January 20 New York Times report revealed he settled a sexual harassment claim with an aide more than three decades his junior.

The New York Times first reported last Saturday that Meehan, 62, had used thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds to settle allegations from a woman who accused Meehan of "making unwanted romantic overtures" to her. The accuser's lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, called the allegations "well-grounded" and a "serious sexual harassment claim".

Ryan's office confirmed to CNN that the speaker was informed of Meehan's decision after a letter was sent to Meehan's campaign chair. But he contended that he had done nothing wrong and had never sought a romantic relationship with her.

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Meehan called the controversy a distraction and said he needed "to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter", according to the reports. Ryan also told Meehan to repay the money and the Ethics Committee opened an investigation into whether Meehan sexually harassed the woman and misused official resources.

Meehan's announcement marks the fifth member of congress to resign or forego reelection as sexual harassment on Capitol Hill has captured the national attention. DiGiorgio called it a "sad ending to what was an otherwise noteworthy career of a dedicated public servant leader". "We must always hold ourselves to the highest possible standard - especially while serving in Congress", National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) said in a Thursday night statement.

The Republican congressman also acknowledged he lashed out at the aide in his office after he found out about a relationship she was in. The settlement was secret under confidentiality provisions, and Meehan refuses to say how much taxpayer money was involved.

Meehan, who has reviewed sexual harassment claims against other representatives, was removed from the House Ethics Committee after news broke of the settlement.


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