US Rep. Pat Meehan is speaking out to deny any misconduct after a New York Times report that he used his Congressional funds to settle a former female staffer’s sexual harassment complaint got him removed from the House Ethics Committee.
Facing midterm elections in November, Meehan (R-7th Dist.) told the Delaware County Daily Times that he was never accused of touching, making “passes” or talking about wanting a relationship with the woman.
Meehan, 62, who is married and has three children, claimed he told the woman — whom he described as a “gatekeeper” at his office — that he had feelings for her and considered her a “soul mate,” but he did not want a relationship and was happily married, he told the Philly Inquirer.
The alleged victim’s lawyer told the New York Times that she was the subject of pressure and anger from Meehan, who she says was jealous of her relationship with another staffer at the office, that made her continued work there “untenable,” prompting her to file a harassment complaint through Congress.
In the wake of the story, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan said Meehan should repay the settlement, and Gov. Tom Wolf has said he should resign.
Meehan told the Delco Daily Times that government counsel approved the use of taxpayer dollars for the settlement. The exact payment was not disclosed but was reportedly in the thousands.
He also made clear he does not consider himself guilty of sexual misconduct.
“If an expression that I was trying to make sure that I didn’t cross a boundary and a letter that supports a new relationship can be conceived to be serious sexual harassment,” he told the Daily Times, “then I think that we’re crossing a line, and that appears to be a big part of how we got here today.”