Rep. Pat Meehan removed from Ethics Committee after report he settled sexual misconduct complaint

House Speaker Paul Ryan removed Rep. Patrick Meehan from the House Ethics Committee on Saturday following a news repo...

Posted: Jan 21, 2018 8:49 PM
Updated: Jan 21, 2018 8:49 PM

House Speaker Paul Ryan removed Rep. Patrick Meehan from the House Ethics Committee on Saturday following a news report that the Pennsylvania Republican used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle a sexual misconduct complaint against him by a former aide.

Ryan told Meehan he must repay whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle the case and, although he has denied the allegations, be investigated by the Ethics Committee, Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong said in a statement Saturday.

The New York Times first reported Meehan's settlement.

"Speaker Ryan takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously," Strong's statement read. "The speaker is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in the House and providing victims the resources they need."

The statement added that the House is set to pass major bipartisan reform to the way the House handles claims of sexual harassment," and the speaker will apply these new standards to the allegations made against Mr. Meehan."

The former aide accused Meehan of making unwanted romantic advances toward her, and when she didn't reciprocate, he grew hostile, according to the Times, which cited people familiar with her time in the office.

The former aide initiated a complaint with Congress' Office of Compliance, began working from home and ultimately left her job, the Times reported. She later reached a confidential settlement paid from Meehan's congressional office fund.

Meehan's spokesman, John Elizandro, issued a statement saying the congressman denies the allegations.

"Throughout his career, he has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism," the statement read.

"In this case, the employee, represented by counsel, made certain assertions of inappropriate behavior, which were investigated," Elizandro said. "With respect to resolving any allegation made against the office, Congressman Meehan would only act with advice of House Counsel and consistent with House Ethics Committee guidance. Every step of the process was handled ethically and appropriately. At Congressman Meehan's request, the congressional attorneys handling the case have asked the complainant's counsel to release all parties from the confidentiality requirements of the 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.

"Rep. Meehan believes there must be real reform to the process for resolving complaints so that those who are truly wronged are given a fair forum to be heard and vindicated, and those accused are provided with an ability to respond to baseless accusations," Elizandro's statement continued. "The public to whom elected officials are answerable must be provided with a true sense of the facts and circumstances involved."

Alexis Ronickher, who represented Meehan's accuser, said in a statement that Meehan has asked her client to waive confidentiality "so he can deny well-grounded allegations knowing full well that his former staffer prizes her privacy above all else. Mr. Meehan demanded confidentiality to resolve the matter, presumably so that the public would never know that he entered into a settlement of a serious sexual harassment claim."

"Now that it has become public - due to no fault of my client's - he has flouted his legal obligations and is speaking publicly," Ronickher said. "We will not allow our client to be victimized twice by this man. If he further violates the confidentiality strictures he insisted upon and he agreed to, he will leave our client no choice but to seek legal recourse on her behalf."

The latest allegations against a sitting member of Congress surfaced the same week that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers unveiled a long-awaited plan aimed at tackling the way workplace complaints -- including sexual harassment -- are handled on Capitol Hill and holding lawmakers personally liable for settlements.

Under the current process, settlements reached after parties go through the Office of Compliance's system are paid out through a US Treasury fund. However, the settlement between Meehan and his former aide was paid out of his office fund, not the Office of Compliance, according to the Times.

Sexual harassment and accusations of inappropriate behavior 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.

Franken, who left Congress earlier this month, has said that some of the allegations against him were "simply not true."

Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 after allegedly sexually harassing a staffer. Conyers denied wrongdoing in that case, but acknowledged that there had been a financial settlement to that complaint, before he announced his retirement.

Franks has denied ever having "physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have any sexual contact with any member" of his congressional staff.

Several other lawmakers have abandoned re-election bids in light of accusations of harassment or misconduct, including Nevada Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen and Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold.

The House Ethics Committee launched investigations into Franks, Conyers, Farenthold and Kihuen. Both Farenthold and Kihuen remain under investigation by the committee.

Kihuen has repeatedly denied allegations that he sexually harassed a female campaign staffer. Farenthold has denied engaging in regular verbal abuse of his staff.

A former local prosecutor, Meehan has been a vocal supporter of domestic violence victims. He is also a member of a bipartisan congressional task force to end sexual violence and has sponsored legislation requiring reporting of sexual violence.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604758

Reported Deaths: 7648
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1250271781
Ramsey52525898
Dakota46864471
Anoka42797458
Washington27437291
Stearns22563225
St. Louis18145314
Scott17554138
Wright16385149
Olmsted13406102
Sherburne1202895
Carver1067648
Clay826592
Rice8207110
Blue Earth762944
Crow Wing681995
Kandiyohi668485
Chisago620752
Otter Tail586484
Benton583098
Goodhue484074
Douglas475881
Mower470533
Winona461452
Itasca460263
Isanti440364
McLeod431261
Morrison424862
Beltrami408062
Nobles407850
Steele397817
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363953
Carlton353056
Freeborn347133
Pine334923
Nicollet331345
Mille Lacs311854
Brown308040
Le Sueur297426
Cass286532
Todd285733
Meeker263643
Waseca238023
Martin235333
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182846
Redwood176639
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163423
Fillmore157610
Faribault155319
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146710
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122812
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine115020
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95618
Stevens92511
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned47793
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371318

Reported Deaths: 6059
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58281641
Linn21248339
Scott20311248
Black Hawk16200312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462685
Dubuque13517211
Dallas1129399
Pottawattamie11233174
Story1071948
Warren584091
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554297
Sioux517774
Webster516594
Muscatine4883106
Marshall488076
Des Moines468172
Wapello4340122
Buena Vista427140
Jasper421273
Plymouth403281
Lee382557
Marion366176
Jones301157
Henry294937
Bremer288861
Carroll287052
Boone268534
Crawford268440
Benton260455
Washington257251
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212371
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198935
Page194522
Buchanan194233
Cedar192323
Hardin187444
Fayette187143
Wright186140
Hamilton182051
Harrison180073
Clayton171257
Butler166535
Madison164619
Mills163924
Floyd163542
Cherokee159438
Lyon159241
Poweshiek157136
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149924
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138813
Grundy137533
Emmet135741
Jefferson133435
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130135
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126743
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113523
Howard105122
Montgomery103638
Clarke101124
Keokuk97032
Monroe96431
Unassigned9570
Ida91635
Adair87532
Pocahontas85822
Davis85325
Monona83631
Osceola78917
Greene78111
Lucas77923
Worth7628
Taylor66812
Fremont6279
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56418
Wayne54423
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Adams3454
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