House Ethics Committee Drops Republican Over Taxpayer-Funded Harassment Settlement

A Republican tasked with fighting against sexual harassment in Congress secretly settled a misconduct complaint filed against him by a former aide, The New York Times first reported Saturday.

According to the report, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), a member of the House Ethics Committee and married father of three, expressed interest in the personal life of a female aide who was decades younger than him. Meehan eventually attempted to pursue a romantic relationship with the aide and became hostile when she rejected his advances, the Times said.

The advances reportedly made the aide, who remains anonymous, so uncomfortable that she filed a complaint against Meehan, began working from home and, eventually, quit.

Meehan was booted from the House Ethics Committee on Saturday, hours after the Times story was published. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Meehan’s ouster in a statement to HuffPost.

In its story, the Times spoke with 10 people who either worked in Meehan’s office or were friends with the aide at the time the alleged harassment took place.

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 denies the former aide’s allegations, his spokesman John Elizandro told HuffPost in an email, adding that he “has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”

Elizandro said the former employee was represented by counsel and “made certain assertions of inappropriate behavior which were investigated.” 

He also insisted that Meehan “would only act with advice of House Counsel and consistent with House Ethics Committee guidance,” and that he had handled the process “ethically and appropriately.”

Meehan requested that the congressional lawyers involved in the case release both parties from the confidentiality agreement “to…

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