GOP Rep. Pat Meehan announced Friday he is resigning from Congress effective immediately in the wake of a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by a female ex-staffer, whom he had referred to as his “soul mate.”
Meehan, who had already announced that he planned to retire from Congress at the end of his term, said in a statement that he plans to pay back the $39,000 he used from his office account to settle a claim against him.
“While I do believe I would be exonerated of any wrongdoing, I also did not want to put my staff through the rigors of an Ethics Committee investigation and believed it was best for them to have a head start on new employment rather than being caught up in an inquiry. And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff,” Meehan said in a statement.
The House Ethics Committee voted in February to open an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Meehan and his former chief of staff.
Meehan was stripped of his position on the House Ethics Committee in January, a role in which he was actively investigating lawmakers who used taxpayer money to settle harassment claims, after The New York Times reported that he used taxpayer money to settle the sexual harassment complaint.
The aide told the Times that Meehan had professed romantic desires to her after she initiated a relationship with a man outside the congressman’s office. Meehan then allegedly grew hostile toward her when she rejected his overtures.
Meehan denied he harassed the woman and argued the payment was “severance.”