Another congressman is declining to run for re-election after facing sexual harassment accusations.
Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Meehan, who up until this week had been one of the House Ethics Committee members investigating sexual harassment charges, was revealed Jan. 20 to have paid a taxpayer-funded settlement to an accuser last year.
The New York Times reported Meehan had settled with a younger staff member after telling her he was attracted to her. House Speaker Paul Ryan removed Meehan from the Ethics Committee post after the story was published.
Meehan has decided to leave the House, sources in Congress and the Pennsylvania Republican Party confirmed Thursday night, saying he won’t defend his seat in November’s election.
The Philadelphia Inquirer obtained a letter that it reports Meehan sent to his campaign chairman:
“Unfortunately, recent events concerning my office and the settlement of certain harassment allegations have become a major distraction,” he wrote. “I need to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter.”
Meehan hasn’t denied the facts of the settlement, and even told reporters he viewed the woman as a soul mate — but insisted the conversation and a letter he wrote her wasn’t harassment. He told member station WHYY: “[I clarified] that I was a happily-married man. I was not looking for any kind of a relationship.”
His decision not to run again opens up a Democratic-leaning House seat in suburban Philadelphia that already had been high on Democrats’ lists of 2018 targets.
The decision makes Meehan is the fifth congressman to resign or retire in recent months following sexual-misconduct accusations.