Pennsylvania congressman leading assault task force settles his own case

Patrick Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a misconduct complaint from a former aide to whom the congressmen repeatedly expressed his romantic desires, The New York Times reported.

According to the story, Meehan "used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him a year ago of making unwanted romantic overtures to her". According to the Times, Meehan, who is 62 and married with three sons, professed "romantic desires" to the decades-younger aide a year ago and turned hostile towards her when she rejected his overtures.

Meehan denies he harassed or mistreated the former aide, who was not named.

"In addition", Strong said, "Mr. Meehan is being immediately removed from the House Ethics Committee".

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

Alexis Ronickher, the former aide's attorney, pushed back, saying Meehan's statement was "a desperate effort to preserve his career" because he is the one who "demanded" confidentiality and is only speaking out now that it has become public.

Meehan's accuser paid her own lawyers' fees, and the settlement she reached was not enough to cover her legal and living expenses while she was out of work, according to a person with whom she discussed her finances. "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".

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"Speaker Ryan takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously", Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said. The Times's report is based on interviews with 10 people.

Ryan apparently is not calling for Meehan's resignation at this time. Several of the Democrats, including Dan Muroff, Drew McGinty and Molly Sheehan, Saturday called on him to get out of the race and resign office after the report first broke Saturday. Wolf said in a statement.

The office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker declined to comment.

"Reporting alleged assault will help victims understand their rights, like pursuing an investigation and pressing charges, and the resources available, such as local sexual assault programs", Meehan had said in a press release on the legislation.

"Meehan was voted in to advocate for the best interests of the 7th district, but instead used his power to personally and financially attack a staffer", the statement said. If he refuses to resign, House leadership must strip him of his committee assignments.

"I think this mortally wounds his candidacy for re-election", Delaware County Democratic Chairman David Landau said.

  • Sonia Alvarado