Rep. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanBottom line Freshman lawmaker jokes about pace of Washington politics Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress MORE (R-Pa.) on Tuesday said he developed an affection for a younger female staffer and saw her as “a soul mate,” but denied seeking a romantic relationship with her.
Meehan spoke with The (Philadelphia) Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News on Tuesday for the first time since allegations of sexual misconduct against him surfaced.
Meehan said, “I was a happily married man and I was not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship, but we were soul mates,” the news outlets reported.
“I think that the idea of soul mate is that sort of person that out go through remarkable experiences together,” Meehan added.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim against him for an undisclosed amount.
The Times reported that Meehan had professed romantic desires to a staffer after she initiated a relationship with a man outside the congressman’s office. Meehan then reportedly grew hostile toward the woman when she did not accept his overtures.
Meehan acknowledged much of what the Times reported, including that he expressed his affection to the woman over ice cream and that he was upset when told of her relationship with another man.
“Sometimes I have the tendency to lash out to others on the staff,” Meehan said. “You go hardest on the ones that you care the most about.”
However, he denied he harassed the woman and argued the payment was "severance," according to The Inquirer.
Meehan was removed from his post on the House Ethics Committee, which subsequently opened an investigation Monday into the allegations against him.
He said Tuesday he would repay the public funds used to settle case if found guilty by the House Ethics Committee.
A spokesman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that the Speaker "takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously."
"The speaker is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in the House and providing victims the resources they need," Ryan spokesman Doug Andres told The Hill, noting allegations against Meehan "must be fully and immediately investigated by the House Ethics Committee."
Ryan has told Meehan he should repay whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle his case. The Speaker's spokesman noted that Meehan was no longer on the Ethics Committee and that "any further action or comment will come pending a full and prompt investigation by the Ethics Committee."
Updated: 7:29 p.m.