Representative Pat Meehan, Republican from Pennsylvania, has reached peak “thanks, Obama”-ism by attributing his mistreatment of a younger female aide to stress stemming from the Affordable Care Act.
Meehan has been under fire since The New York Times reported this weekend that he used thousands of dollars in public funds to settle a sexual harassment claim with the former aide. Ironically, Meehan was helping to investigate sexual harassment in Congress when the story broke. His team issued a statement to the Times saying that the congressman “denies these allegations” and “has always treated his colleagues, male and female, with the utmost respect and professionalism.”
Let’s see what respect and professionalism look like to Meehan.
On Tuesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a lengthy interview with Meehan. According to the paper, Meehan told his aide that he considered her “a soul mate” and when he found out she was in a new relationship, he “lash[ed] out,” a decision for which he blames the ACA:
He said he felt bad about lashing out in his office when told of the woman’s relationship, attributing it to the tension-filled stretch around the House GOP votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, when he faced intense pressure from both sides of the debate.
“Sometimes I have the tendency to lash out to others on the staff … and you go hardest on the ones that you care the most about,” Meehan said in the interview.
Meehan also “later expressed his feelings of affection to the aide, and sent a heartfelt, hand-written letter congratulating her on her new relationship.” Sounds a lot like sexual harassment to me!
After filing a complaint with Congress’s shady Office of Compliance, the woman was so discouraged by the handling of the complaint that, according to the Times, it “led to her estrangement from her colleagues” and “set her back financially and professionally.” Eventually she “decided to start a new life abroad.”
According to the Inquirer, when asked if he had thought about the power dynamics at play, Meehan replied that he “should have been looking at it from the perspective of a subordinate and a superior” but also added that in his office, “there is no hierarchy – we call it team Meehan.” There is perhaps nothing more terrifying than the idea of your boss calling you his “soul mate” and then making you fist-pump for Team Meehan.
Oh, and Team Meehan is still running for re-election.