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Rep. Patrick Meehan drops re-election bid amid harassment furor

27 January 2018

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 past year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her, according to several people familiar with the settlement. On Saturday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) removed Meehan from the committee and ordered an investigation into the allegations.

For Meehan, it landed as he already faced a hard reelection bid in the Seventh Congressional District, a moderate suburban district, in a year that has seen a sharp national backlash to sexual harassment.

Though Meehan described developing an "affection" for the young aide and described her as a soul mate - a comment which has drawn national ridicule and anger - he tried to explain the term again in his letter.

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Meehan was seeking a fifth term when the New York Times on January 20 about the settlement. It was reported this week Meehan used taxpayer funds to pay for a settlement to a staffer accusing him of sexual harassment.

Mr Meehan said he followed the advice of House lawyers and the House Ethics committee guidance when he agreed to the payment. "I need to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter".

He said he had developed strong feelings for the woman in the seven years she had worked for him, and that he reacted badly when he discovered that she had a romantic interest in another man.

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Party officials were reportedly considering Meehan's replacement after determining the sexual harassment claim represented a significant obstacle to reelection in a competitive suburban district narrowly captured by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But he said in a letter sent to his campaign chairman on Thursday, he said that "recent events concerning my office and the settlement of certain harassment allegations have become a major distraction", according to Philadelphia Inquirer, which obtained a copy of the note.

Initially, Meehan had said he would run for a fifth term.

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He told the Philadelphia Daily News that he never considered pursuing a romantic or sexual relationship with the aide. "I think that the idea of soul mate is that sort of person that you go through remarkable experiences together". For as little as $3, you can help us.

Rep. Patrick Meehan drops re-election bid amid harassment furor