Rep. Meehan will not seek reelection after sexual harassment backlash

Rep. Meehan will not seek reelection after sexual harassment backlash
© Keren Carrion

Rep. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanOvernight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Three Republicans join climate change caucus Pennsylvania GOP to use Meehan donation to support female candidates MORE (R-Pa.) announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2018, following immense public backlash over reports of a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by a female former staffer, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“After consultation with my wife, Carolyn, and with my three sons, and after prayerful reflection, I write to inform you that I will not seek re-election to the United States Congress for the Seventh Congressional District in 2018,” Meehan wrote in a letter to his campaign chairman, obtained by the Inquirer. “Today I communicated the same to the office of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanInterior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia National Dems make play in Ohio special election MORE.”

“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.”

Reports revealed earlier this week that Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former staffer decades his junior. 
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Meehan has denied that any harassment occurred, but said he and the unnamed former aide are "soul mates" and admitted that he had lashed out at her when he found out she had a serious partner.  

The House Ethics Committee on Monday opened an investigation into the claims and removed Meehan from his post on the panel. If found guilty by the Ethics Committee, Meehan said he would repay the taxpayer funds.

The Republican already faced steep obstacles to win reelection in his home district, where Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Anti-Trump protests outside White House continue into fifth night Opera singers perform outside White House during fourth day of protests MORE won in 2016. 

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversTop GOP campaign official rebuts Trump on Russia threat GOP campaign arm withdraws support from NJ House candidate who made racist statements Progressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party MORE (Ohio) called Meehan's announcement disappointing.

"While I’m disappointed by the circumstances leading to Congressman Meehan’s retirement, I thank him for his dedication to his district. We must always hold ourselves to the highest possible standard — especially while serving in Congress," Stivers said. "I am confident that the voters of Pennsylvania's 7th District will elect a strong conservative who will represent their values."

Updated 9:16 p.m.