Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA), who is a Republican member of the House Ethics Committee and who had painted himself as a leader in the fight against sexual harassment, used taxpayer money to settle his own sexual misconduct lawsuit, according to a New York Times report.
It turns out that Mr. Meehan used thousands of dollars from an office account to settle a sexual harassment complaint from a former aide. The unnamed aide, who was decades younger than the congressman, said that Meehan repeatedly made unwanted overtures to her — both in person and in writing.
Patrick Meehan served as US attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania before arriving in Congress, where he is now serving his third term. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) removed him from the Ethics Committee following the report, but he remains a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
As the New York Times reported, Meehan has been pushing for protections for domestic violence victims since his time as a local prosecutor. In Congress, he has sponsored legislation mandating the reporting of sexual assault. Meehan is also a member of a bipartisan “task force” aimed at ending sexual violence and domestic assault.
Patrick Meehan stands out from the crowd of other members of congress who have recently faced allegations as not only was there the conduct itself, there was also the usage to taxpayer money to “settle” it. The fact that he was not only a member of the Ethics Committee, but was further trying to co-opt the current tide against sexual harassment and harness it in such a way that he could sort of specialize in being against sexual harassment, serves as a pretty amazing cautionary tale about what weapons-grade hubris and hypocrisy can do.
Meehan’s spokesperson said in a statement that the congressman denies the allegations, and that his attorneys have asked that the parties involved be released from confidentiality requirements “to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts.”