Pennsylvania Rep. Pat “Obamacare Made Me Harass” Meehan told his campaign chairman that he will not seek reelection at the end of his term, the Philly Inquirer reports.
The news comes just five days after the New York Times reported that Meehan—a House Ethics Committee member who was helping “fight sexual harassment in Congress”—had used thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle a misconduct complaint made against him.
Meehan gave a disastrous interview to the Inquirer two days ago in response to the Times report. He “confirmed the outline of the Times story, which said the married 62-year-old expressed his romantic desires to his aide after she began a serious relationship with someone else, then grew hostile when she did not reciprocate,” the paper said.
Meehan also told the Inquirer he had a “deep affection” for the young aide, whom he saw as a “soul mate,” but claims he never actually pursued a relationship with her; he also said his aggressive behavior toward her could be attributed to stress surrounding a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In explaining why he settled the claim confidentially with taxpayer money, Meehan said that House attorneys “advised him it was a practice that had been used before.”
In the letter to his campaign chair, Meehan called the events of the last week “a major distraction,” adding that he “need[s] to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter.” Also in the letter, courtesy of the Inquirer:
“No characterization of the work relationship I shared with a uniquely close colleague could have been more personally harmful than when I described that co- worker as a ‘soul-mate,”’ he wrote. “I truly didn’t even consider or understand the full implications of the use of that term. Quite simply to me a soul-mate means a uniquely close person who is joined with you on a daily basis, in which you both share the routine successes and strains of a work day.”
Meehan has also reportedly informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of his decision.