Rep. Patrick Meehan announced Friday that he is resigning from Congress to end the Ethics Committee’s investigation into allegations he sexually harassed a former staffer.
The Pennsylvania Republican said he intends to repay the $39,000 in taxpayer dollars used to settle the harassment case with the staffer within the next 30 days. He had already announced he would not run for re-election following the allegations.
“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,” Meehan said in a statement. “And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff.”
Meehan’s resignation will take effect Friday. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has 10 days to declare a special election, which must occur at least 60 days after the governor’s announcement. The nominees for a special election are chosen by party leaders, rather than through a direct primary election.
A race is already underway for Meehan’s open seat in the Philadelphia suburbs, which became much more favorable to Democrats after the state Supreme Court imposed a new congressional map. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Democratic.
Meehan is the fifth lawmaker to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct, and the seventh to face such allegations in the wake of a national “Me Too” movement countering sexual harassment and assault.