Representative Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican, admitted he felt “affection” for a younger aide who, he believed, was his “soulmate” and “complete partner,” in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.
However, he denied sexually harassing her.
The 62-year-old congressman used thousands of dollars from taxpayer funds to settle the misconduct complaint filed by the former aide, who reportedly regarded Meehan as a “father figure.” She accused Meehan of making unwanted romantic advancements, according to a New York Times report.
Last May, the congressman had a conversation with the aide over ice cream and later allegedly sent a handwritten letter, thanking her for her companionship.
“As you bask in this moment of extreme joy, I want to share with you my sentiment of how richly it is deserved,” the letter read. “You are kind and sensitive and caring and infectious with your laugh. You are and have been a complete partner to me and you have brought me much happiness.”
The aide responded to the letter in a text message the next day, thanking him for his “kind words” and “friendship.” The messages were shared with the Associated Press by Meehan’s office.
The former aide blamed Meehan of turning hostile toward her when she started a relationship with someone else. She claimed the GOPer left no option for her but to work from home and ultimately quit the job.
The woman filed a sexual harassment complaint and after Congress’ investigation, she reached a settlement with Meehan. He paid an undisclosed amount from the congressional office fund, the Times reported.
The lawmaker denied the allegations, in a statement issued by his communications director, John Elizandro. It stated that Meehan “has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”
The married Republican, a father of three, confessed he has “the tendency to lash out to others on the staff ... and you go hardest on the ones that you care the most about,” during an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.
He admitted that he talked to the aide about her new relationship “selfishly” thinking about him, “...she was leaving and that this was going to change the dynamic which was very special in my office and also somebody that I was emotionally close to by virtue of the time that we spent together in seven years.”
In his first extensive response to the bomb shell New York Times report, Meehan said he told the aide he was “not interested in a relationship,” not “any sexual relationship,” he specified. However, the lawmaker did not deny that he considered the aide “soulmate.”
Meehan justified keeping the payment secret saying he wanted to protect “his and his aide’s privacy.” He said he wanted the settlement to remain private so that both of them could move on in their professional lives.
Following the report, House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly removed Meehan from the House Ethics Committee where, ironically, he was helping in reviewing sexual harassment claims against other representatives. The committee has also launched a probe against his actions.
Meehan is reportedly planning to run for the re-elections.
Thumbnail/Banner : Reuters, Jim Bourg