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 RyanOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump 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 ClintonTrump thanks 'vicious young Socialist Congresswomen' for his poll numbers Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE won in 2016. 

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversOvernight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban Fed chief: Facebook crypto project poses 'serious concerns' for economy, consumers 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.