Vulnerable GOP incumbent returns Meehan donations

Vulnerable GOP incumbent returns Meehan donations
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform 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 Colorado Republican is one of the 23 GOP lawmakers representing districts Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFarrow: Clinton staff raised concerns over Weinstein reporting Perry says Trump directed him to discuss Ukraine with Giuliani: report The Memo: Once the front-runner, Biden now vulnerable MORE won in 2016. His district is regularly targeted by Democrats. 
 
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 FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority 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. 
 
The Virginia Democratic Party has called on Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (R-Va.) to return donations from Meehan in posts on its Facebook page. On Friday, Comstock's campaign announced that she would donate campaign contributions from Meehan.
 
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 FrankenTake Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D-Minn.) as photos and accounts emerged accusing him of groping women without their consent. 
 
Updated Jan. 27 at 5:24 p.m.