Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican, was removed from the House Ethics Committee Saturday amid allegations that he used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by a former aide.
Meehan, a leader of the fight against sexual harassment in Congress, denies the charges, which were first reported by The New York Times.
The former aide, who is not named, claims that Meehan, a 62-year-old married father-of-three, made repeated unwanted romantic advances toward her, and grew hostile when news spread around the office that she had a boyfriend, and she declined his professions of romantic interest.
She settled the claim for an undisclosed amount, paid out of Meehan’s congressional office fund, according to the report.
The congressman denied the allegations through his communications director who said Meehan “has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the committee would investigate the claims. He has also called on Meehan to repay the funds he allegedly used to settle the case.
Meehan’s communications director, John Elizandro, requested that the settlement’s confidentiality agreement be waived “to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts,” according to the report.
Alexis Ronickher, an attorney for the former aide, called the request “a desperate effort to preserve his career.”
She said that Meehan knows her client is a private person who does not wish to reveal her identity.
The Ethics Committee has already launched investigations into sexual misconduct claims against at least four congressman, including Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, John Conyers Jr, Democrat of Michigan, Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, and Ruben Kihuen, Democrat of Nevada.