Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania resigns after sexual harassment case forced end of re-election bid

Key Points
  • Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania resigned Friday, after having said in January he would not seek re-election.
  • Meehan had settled a claim with a former aide who accused him of making unwanted romantic overtures.
  • Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan have all left Congress because of sexual harassment claims recently, while others have dropped re-election efforts for the same reason.
Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call

Rep. Patrick Meehan, the Pennsylvania Republican who in January announced he would not run for re-election this fall after being accused of sexual harassment, resigned Friday from the House.

Meehan, a married father of three, also said he would reimburse the federal government for a $39,000 severance payment made from his office account to a former aide who had accused him of making unwanted romantic advances.

The 62-year-old's departure comes three weeks after Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas resigned from the House, also after a sexual harassment scandal scuttled his plans to run for re-election.

A number of other members of Congress, among them Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who resigned in January, recently have either left before the completion of their terms or said they would not run for re-election because of sex scandals.

Meehan, who had faced a pending House Ethics Committee probe, was elected to represent Pennsylvania's 7th District, which is solidly Republican, in 2010.

The former federal and state prosecutor sent his letter of resignation to both Gov. Tom Wolf and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Meehan was removed from the Ethics Committee in January after the settlement with the much younger aide was revealed.

A New York Times story that exposed his alleged conduct said Meehan had "professed his romantic desire for the woman," and then "grew hostile when she did not reciprocate."

"With the knowledge I would not be standing for another term, I have decided that stepping down now is in the interest of the constituents I have been honored to serve," Meehan said in a prepared statement Friday.

"I have stayed to fight for important priorities like fully funding our troops, increasing support for medical research and preserving promising clean energy solutions. And now that work is accomplished."

"While I do believe I would be exonerated of any wrongdoing, I also did not want to put my staff through the rigors of an Ethics Committee investigation and believed it was best for them to have a head start on new employment rather than being caught up in an inquiry," he said. "And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff."

Meehan also said that within 30 days he will pay $39,000 to the U.S. Treasury "that was made from my office account."

"I did not want to leave with any question of violating the trust of taxpayers," he said.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., resigned in December after he talked to two female staffers about his desire to find a surrogate mother to bear his child.

That same month, Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, retired as the longest-serving House member in the face of an Ethics Committee probe of harassment claims by former aides.

Rep. Tim Murphy, another Pennsylvania Republican, resigned in October after reports surfaced that he had asked a mistress to obtain an abortion.