Name: Patrick Meehan
Role: US Congressman (R-Pa); sits on the House Ways and Means Committee
Accusations: Settled a lawsuit with a young aide, who accused him of sexual harassment. He called her his “soul mate” and signed a handwritten letter to her, “With all of my heart, Patrick.”
Consequences for his actions: Meehan will not seek reelection in 2018; is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, a committee from which he has been removed.
Meehan’s Response: He has denied wrongdoing: “I intend to keep fighting for my constituents until the end of my term,” he wrote Thursday in a letter to his campaign chairman. Read the full letter in the Washington Post. He tried to characterize his payout to the aide as “severance,” not a settlement.
In an attempt to defend himself, he made the allegations so much worse by referring to his aide as his “soul mate.” Read his interview in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.
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The New York Times was first to report that Patrick Meehan not only sexually harassed his aide, he then settled her complaint using his office budget.
Congressman Combatting Harassment Settled His Own Misconduct Case, The New York Times, by Katie Rogers and Kenneth P. Vogel, Jan. 20, 2018
In attempting to clear things up, he made it so much worse by calling the aide his “soul mate” in an interview. He also sent her a handwritten letter which he signs, “With all of my heart, Patrick.” He also said that while he remained devoted to his wife, it was just going to take him some time to get over the fact that she, the young aide, now had a boyfriend.
Read the interview and see a screenshot of his handwritten letter in the Inquirer’s story, below.
Pat Meehan Says He Saw Younger Aide as “Soul Mate” But Denies Harassment, The Philadelphia Inquirer, by Jonathan Tamari, Jan 23, 2018
Anonymous Accuser, an aide to Congressman Meehan
As reported in the New York Times article below
A married father of three, Mr. Meehan, 62, had long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure, according to three people who worked with the office and four others with whom she discussed her tenure there.
But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office last year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter — and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate, the people familiar with her time in the office said.
Life in the office became untenable, so she initiated the complaint process, started working from home and ultimately left the job. She later reached a confidential agreement with Mr. Meehan’s office that included a settlement for an undisclosed amount to be paid from Mr. Meehan’s congressional office fund.
Congressman Combatting Harassment Settled His Own Misconduct Case
The New York Times, by Katie Rogers and Kenneth P. Vogel, Jan. 20, 2018
John Elizandro, Mr. Meehan’s communications director, issued a statement saying that the congressman “denies these allegations” and “has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”
But in an interview shortly after the accusations were made public, Meehan made it so much worse by calling his aide his “soul mate.” Read the interview in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Meehan wrote in a letter to his campaign chairman that was obtained by The Washington Post:
“Unfortunately, recent events concerning my office and the settlement of certain harassment allegations have become a major distraction. I need to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter. … It is clear to me, that under the current conditions, any campaign I would run would not be decided over vital issues but would likely devolve into an ugly spectacle of harsh rhetoric. I do not believe that is in the best interest of the constituents I represent.”
Gov. Wolf (D) has called for Meehan to step down.
Molly Sheehan, one of Meehan’s Democratic challengers, posted on Facebook that “Pat Meehan should no longer be allowed to create the laws and systems which are meant to protect women and he should resign immediately.”
Elizabeth Moro, another Democratic candidate, posted about the story after Saturday’s women’s march in Philadelphia. She wrote, “This is the culture we marched against today.”
Protesters held a successful event on Jan 22, 2018, calling for him to resign. See it on Twitter.
Republicans in PA were much more easy-going on Meehan, citing his denials and calling for an investigation to reveal more facts. Read the Philadelphia Inquirer story from Jan 23, 2018 by Jonathan Tamari and Andrew Seidman.
The following responses from lawmakers were all quoted in the Washington Post, by Elise Viebeck, Jan 26, 2017
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R) said he thought Meehan should step down. “Hopefully, he will be headed out really quickly. You can’t force him out, but I know [House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)] stripped him of one of his committees, and so hopefully he’s on the way out.”
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement Thursday that he was “disappointed by the circumstances” that prompted Meehan’s decision, but thanked him for his “dedication to his district.”
Virginia state Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-Loudoun), who is running to unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in Northern Virginia, demanded Friday that Comstock repay $8,000 that Meehan had contributed to her campaign.