Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., denied allegations of misconduct after it was reported Saturday he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former staffer. But the ensuing fallout has cost him his seat on the House Ethics Committee and has placed him in a position for investigation.
The Pennsylvania Republican reportedly paid the unnamed staffer with money from his congressional office fund, which allows payments to go under the radar for months and be disguised as a salary.
According to the New York Times, Meehan became hostile towards his accuser, who is significantly younger than him, when she denied his romantic advances. The amount he paid her remains unknown at the moment.
As a member of the House Ethics Committee, he has been working on an investigation into at least four other lawmakers for similar accusations, including Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and John Conyers, D-Mich., both of whom have resigned.
Meehan denied the allegations. “Throughout his career he has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism," said spokesman John Elizandro.
However, by late Saturday afternoon, amid a government shutdown, Meehan was removed from the ethics panel, according to a statement from House Speaker Paul Ryan's office, which also urged Meehan to repay "whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle this case."
The speaker "takes the allegations against Mr. Meehan very seriously," said spokeswoman AshLee Strong. "The speaker is committed to rooting out sexual misconduct in the House and providing victims the resources they need."
Strong also said Meehan will "immediately submit himself to the Ethics Committee for review" after a discussion with Ryan.
Meehan, 62, is a married father of three and has been in Congress since 2011.