A GOP Congressman Battling Sexual Harassment Reportedly Settled His Own Misconduct Case

Rep. Patrick Meehan R-Pa. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin  AP

Representative Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican 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, The New York Times reports.

Several sources told the Times that Meehan's longstanding interest in his aide's personal life evolved into romantic desires and, ultimately, hostility once she entered into a relationship with another individual outside of Meehan's office.

Meehan is the latest in a string of members of Congress to face allegations of sexual misconduct. Al Franken (D-MN) resigned at the start of the year after facing allegations of groping and other inappropriate behavior from multiple women. Rep. Blake Farenthold reportedly used more than $80,000 in taxpayer money to reach a settlement with his former communications director in 2015, prompting some lawmakers to call for an end to publicly-funded sexual harassment settlements.

But Meehan's case is particularly of note due to the Republican being a well-known advocate on behalf of victims of sexual assault.

Meehan's alleged behavior comes amid an ongoing national conversation about sexual misconduct, especially in the workplace. The speaker is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in the House and providing victims the resources they need.

Ryan spoke with Meehan Saturday and the Pennsylvania Republican agreed to submit himself to the Ethics Committee for review. "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". 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.

In a statement to CBS News, Meehnan denied the allegations against and said that he has "always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism".

Meehan spokesman John Elizandro said the congressman denies the allegations and has called on the former aide to waive the confidentiality agreement to "ensure a full and open airing of all the facts". The Congressman is hopeful that they will agree to this request for full transparency.

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