GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Scandal

Republican Patrick Meehan (R-PA) debates the legality of President Obama’s executive action on immigration with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Republican Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), who represents Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, announced Friday that he will resign his seat.

The embattled lawmaker previously said he would not seek re-election following revelations that he used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual-harassment claim. The House Ethics Committee had initiated a probe into his conduct following allegations from a former aide that Meehan had expressed unwanted romantic advances towards her. He also reportedly turned hostile towards her when she became involved in a relationship.

“With the knowledge I would not be standing for another term, I have decided that stepping down now is in the interest of the constituents I have been honored to serve,” Meehan said in a statement. “I have stayed to fight for important priorities like fully funding our troops, increasing support for medical research and preserving promising clean energy solutions. And now that work is accomplished.”

Meehan said he already submitted his resignation letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Meehan went on to say that he thought he would be exonerated of wrongdoing in the course of an ethics committee investigation but did not want to put his staff through that process and instead allow them to seek new employment.

“I will pay $39,000.00 to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse for the severance payment that was made from my office account,” Meehan asserted. “That payment will be made within 30 days of my resignation from the House of Representatives. I did not want to leave with any question of violating the trust of taxpayers.”

Meehan’s district, previously drawn in moose-antler fashion around Philadelphia, was redrawn for November’s midterm elections, taking it from a district that favored Hillary Clinton by two points to one that would have favored her by some 28 points.

The state will now be highly determinative in Democratic efforts to back the House of Representatives. Gov. Wolf will have to decide if he will call for two special elections in the state—one for Meehan and one for moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) who also recently announced his intent to resign before the end of his term.

Earlier this month, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) similarly resigned his post following revelations of a taxpayer-funded harassment settlement—although without the explicit promise to back that money.

SOURCE: The Daily Beast – Gideon Resnick

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