Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Midstate GOP Congressman Patrick Meehan removed from Ethics Committee

Republican lawmaker settled harassment complaint with former staffer report Keren Carrion
Ellis Copeland | 21 January, 2018, 05:44

A Pennsylvania Republican who is taking a lead role in Congress in fighting sexual harassment, settled his own case and used thousands of taxpayers money to do so, according to reports.

Earlier Saturday, the New York Times published an article saying Meehan, 62, used thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to settle a sexual misconduct claim from a former female aide who accused of making unwanted romantic overtures. Meehan's communications director told the Times in a statement that the lawmaker "denies these allegations".

According to the report, Meehan-a married father of three-allegedly had "long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure".

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

The aide then filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment, and ultimately left the job.

In an emailed statement, Meehan spokesman John Elizandro said the congressman "denies the allegations" and wants to lift the confidentiality agreement binding the settlement parties to "ensure a full and open airing of the facts". "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".

"In this case, the employee, represented by counsel, made certain assertions of inappropriate behavior, which were investigated", Elizandro said.

"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.

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The settlement was paid from Meehan's congressional office fund, meaning it could be disguised as salary and reported months later.

Meehan said that investigatory process, at the guidcance of the House Counsel and hte Ethics Committeee, was handled "ethically and appropriately".

The report is based on 10 interviews the New York Times conducted with the former aide's friends, former colleagues, and those who worked around the office.

The accuser's lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, called the allegations "well-grounded" and rejected the idea of doing away with confidentiality.

The Michigan Democrat John Conyers and Arizona Republican Trent Franks resigned.

Meehan agreed to be reviewed by the committee.

Ryan apparently is not calling for Meehan's resignation at this time.

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