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 MeehanFreshman lawmaker jokes about pace of Washington politics Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress Dem Scanlon wins House seat in Pennsylvania 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 RyanDebate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 Liz Cheney faces a big decision on her future 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 ClintonTop Dem: Trump helps GOP erase enthusiasm gap; Ohio a big problem The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump threatens jail time over 'treason' and 'spying' Several factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years MORE won in 2016. 

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill House bill seeks to bolster security for synagogues, mosques in wake of attacks Congress can open financial institutions to legal cannabis industry with SAFE Banking Act 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.