GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan has been stripped of his position on the House Ethics Committee, 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 a sexual harassment complaint with a former staffer.
Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) spokeswoman AshLee Strong confirmed that Ryan was “immediately” stripping Meehan’s committee position, and had instructed him to repay the full cost of the settlement to taxpayers.
“Speaker Ryan takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously. The speaker is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in the House and providing victims the resources they need. The House is set to pass major bipartisan reform to the way the House handles claims of sexual harassment, and the speaker will apply these new standards to the allegations made against Mr. Meehan,” Strong said.
“Following a conversation with the Speaker today, Mr. Meehan will immediately submit himself to the Ethics Committee for review,” she added. “The new reforms going into place bar the use of taxpayer money to pay settlements, and so the speaker has also told Mr. Meehan that he should repay whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle this case.”
“In addition,” Strong said, “Mr. Meehan is being immediately removed from the House Ethics Committee.”
The Hill reports:
The statement from Ryan’s office comes after the Times reported that Meehan allegedly grew hostile when a former aide did not accept his romantic overtures.
The pushback from Meehan and subsequent investigation destroyed the woman’s life, the Times reports, forcing her to move back in with her parents amid mounting legal fees. She eventually settled with Meehan through the Office of Compliance, receiving a payout said to be in the thousands, though the total amount has not been made public.
The settlement was paid from Meehan’s congressional office fund, meaning it could be disguised as salary and reported months later. Meehan’s communications director told the Times in a statement that the lawmaker “denies these allegations.”
“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. His actions are appalling and today I am calling on Meehan to immediately resign from Congress,” said Drew McGinty, a Democrat who is running against Meehan in the 2018 midterm elections.