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House Ethics Committee member used taxpayer money to settle sexual misconduct complaint

House Ethics Committee member used taxpayer money to settle sexual misconduct complaint

Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, 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 several people familiar with the settlement.

Meehan represents the 7th district of Pennsylvania.

According to the Times's report, Meehan's aide initially went to the congressman in 2016 to report that a senior male member of his staff had professed his attraction to her.

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 woman filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment with the congressional Office of Compliance over the summer.

The four-term Meehan denies he harassed or mistreated her and wants congressional lawyers to ask her lawyer to dissolve the settlement's confidentiality requirements.

A Republican congressman on Saturday denied an allegation of sexual misconduct made in a report that said he used taxpayer dollars to settle a complaint from a female staffer about inappropriate sexual behaviour.

"Speaker Ryan takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously", said AshLee Strong in an emailed statement.

In removing Meehan from the House Ethics Committee, Ryan said the allegations against Meehan must be fully and immediately investigated by the committee, according to a Roll Call report. In a statement issued to Roll Call, he refuted the claims.

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".

This account is based on interviews with 10 people, including friends and former colleagues of the former aide and others who worked around the office.

In an email to the Guardian, a spokesman said Meehan denied the claim. He became hostile toward the woman, who was not named in the story, when she did not reciprocate, the paper reported.

He said he would be meeting with Meehan's people and Republican leaders this week to discuss the situation.

Meehan reportedly told the woman of his romantic feelings in person and later in a handwritten letter.

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. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) have said they will not run for reelection. Sen.

Patrick Meehan from the Ethics Committee as the panel will now open an investigation looking into sexual misconduct allegations raised against him. Meehan is being removed from his position on the committee, and Ryan told Meehan that he should repay any taxpayer funds that were used to settle the case, Ryan's spokeswoman said.

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