Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) has decided to retire from Congress amid reports that he secretly settled a misconduct complaint against him filed by a former aide whom he reportedly said was his “soul mate.”
HuffPost confirmed with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office that Meehan alerted the speaker of his retirement.
“After consultation with my wife Carolyn and with my three sons, and after prayerful reflection, I write to inform you that I will not seek re-election to the United States Congress for the 7th Congressional District in 2018,” Meehan wrote to his campaign chairman.
Meehan was booted from his post on the House Ethics Committee after the Times published a story on Saturday revealing a harassment settlement reached between Meehan and his former aide.
The aide, who remains anonymous, and staffers familiar with her job told the Times that Meehan had expressed interest in the aide’s personal life, which many found to be unprofessional. Meehan reportedly attempted to pursue a romantic relationship with her after she entered a serious relationship, then acted hostile toward her after she rejected him.
Meehan’s advances made the aide so uncomfortable that she filed a complaint against Meehan, began working from home, and eventually quit.
After mandatory counseling and mediation sessions, Meehan and his former aide reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum and signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Meehan reportedly paid the settlement using his congressional office fund, which includes taxpayer money.
In an attempt to defend himself, Meehan told news reporters on Tuesday that he did not pursue a romantic relationship with the aide, but said that he did tell her last year that he saw her as a “soul mate.”
In his letter to the campaign chairman, he expressed regret for using that term to describe the aide.
“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, according to the letter obtained by the Inquirer.
“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 also said that he was retiring because news of the settlement had “become a major distraction,” adding that his “conduct” was at fault.
“Unfortunately, recent events concerning my office and the settlement of certain harassment allegations have become a major distraction,” Meehan wrote. “I need to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter.”