Washington DC: United States House Speaker Paul Ryan has removed Representative Patrick Meehan from the House Ethics Committee, following a news report that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former staffer.
It’s unclear how much taxpayer money Meehan’s office doled out to the former aide, but people familiar with the settlement told the New York Times that it was thousands of dollars.
The Pennsylvania Republican reportedly paid the unnamed staffer with money from his congressional office fund, which allows payments to go under the radar for months and be disguised as a salary.
According to the New York Times, Meehan became hostile towards his accuser, who is significantly younger than him, when she denied his romantic advances.
The former aide initiated a complaint with Congress’ Office of Compliance, began working from home and ultimately left her job, the Times reported.
However, Meehan denied the allegations.
“Throughout his career, he has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism,” Meehan’s spokesman, John Elizandro said in a statement.
Sexual harassment and accusations of inappropriate behaviour led to the departures of three lawmakers in recent months: Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat; Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican; and Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat.
Meehan, a four-term Republican congressman, represents Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district. Meehan sits on the House Ethics Committee, which is partly responsible for investigating sexual misconduct claims in Congress. (ANI)