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Vulnerable GOP incumbent returns Meehan donations

Vulnerable GOP incumbent returns Meehan donations
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanRepublicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration Dem wins leave behind a more conservative GOP conference How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms MORE (R-Colo.) has donated $10,000 in campaign contributions from a GOP lawmaker accused of sexual harassment as Democrats look to use the allegations as a political cudgel. 

Jason Crow, the top candidate in the Democratic primary to win the right to face off against Coffman in November, had called on Coffman to return donations from Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) in light of revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint from a former female staffer. 
 
Coffman's campaign manager Tyler Sandberg told Colorado Politics, a statewide newsletter and website, that the campaign had already donated the money to a Denver-based charity that helps empower young women through mentorships and other programs.  
 
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The decision by Coffman and criticism from Crow underscores the complicated effects of Meehan's decision, for now, to remain in office.
 
Reports revealed earlier this week that Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former staffer decades younger than Meehan.  
 
Meehan has denied that any harassment occurred, but said that he saw the unnamed former aide as a "soul mate" and admitted that he had lashed out at her when he found out she had a serious partner.
 
With Meehan refusing to resign or retire at this juncture, Democrats have called on Republicans who received campaign donations from him to return the money. Democrats have also criticized Republican leadership for not calling for Meehan's swift resignation. 
 
Other Democrats whose Republican rivals have received donations from Meehan have made similar calls. 
 
Gareth Rhodes, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who is running in a primary in Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoFeehery: With 2020 looming, Republicans must learn lessons from midterms Setting caps on political spending strikes at the heart of free speech Trump boasts about having 'retired' Flake: 'I did the country a great service' MORE's (R-N.Y.) district, has called on Faso to return or donate the $3,000 he's received from Meehan over his political career. 
 
 
Representatives from Faso's campaign have not returned requests for comment. 
 
The criticism is part of a long history of targeting candidates who have taken money from people subsequently discovered to be part of a scandal. Republicans aggressively called on Democrats to return money from Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein amid widespread accusations of sexual assault, as well as from then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenSenate GOP beats expectations with expanded majority Democrat Smith wins in Minnesota, will serve remainder of Franken term Harvey Weinstein accused of sexually assaulting 16-year-old girl: reports MORE (D-Minn.) as photos and accounts emerged accusing him of groping women without their consent. 
 
Updated Jan. 27 at 5:24 p.m.