Rep. Meehan denies harassment amid settlement, loses House ethics seat

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Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan moved late Saturday to remove Meehan from the House Ethics Committee and said through a spokesman that an ethics investigation into Meehan, who represents a large swath of Chester County, would begin.

The Meehan report comes on the same day thousands of women marched in the streets of Philadelphia on the anniversary of last year's massive Women's March on Washington.

Meehan worked with assault victims as a prosecutor in Pennsylvania and continued that work in Congress, being a proclaimed "leader in the effort to protect the victims of brutal crimes such as sexual assault", according to his congressional website.

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

The aide filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment after she said Meehan became hostile toward her.

The New York Times is not naming the former aide, who followed the recommended procedures for reporting harassment but came away from the experience feeling traumatized, according to several people with whom she shared her feelings.

Meehan spokesman John Elizandro said the congressman denies the allegations and has called on the former aide to waive the confidentiality agreement to "ensure a full and open airing of all the facts".

After the aide left her post in Meehan's office, Meehan reportedly paid her an undisclosed amount from his congressional office fund, which includes taxpayer money, as part of a confidential agreement. Meehan has been asked to return the taxpayers' money.

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The exact amount of the settlement could not be determined, partly because Meehan's office paid it from a congressional office fund that allows such payments to be disguised as salary and reported months after they were made.

Ryan spoke with Meehan Saturday and the Pennsylvania Republican agreed to submit himself to the Ethics Committee for review. "With respect to resolving any allegation made against the office, Congressman Meehan would only act with advice of House Counsel and consistent with House Ethics Committee guidance".

The irony of Meehan being tangled up in such a scandal given his work to combat sexual misconduct is quite glaring.

Meehan, a former Delaware County district attorney and USA attorney for eastern Pennsylvania, denies he harassed or mistreated the staffer.

Strong said that Speaker Ryan has spoken with Meehan, and told him "that he should repay whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle this case".

"Patrick Meehan's secretive settlement is just another example of Washsington's incompetence when handling issues related to sexual misconduct".

Drew McGinty, a Democrat running against Meehan in the 2018 midterm elections, called on the lawmaker to immediately resign over the reported use of taxpayer dollars to settle the complaint.

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