Embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal that had him planning to leave Congress, Rep. Pat Meehan abruptly resigned Friday and said he would repay the government money used in his settlement.
"With the knowledge I would not be standing for another term, I have decided that stepping down now is in the interest of the constituents I have been honored to serve," the Pennsylvania Republican said in a prepared statement posted to his website Friday afternoon.
Meehan has represented Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District covering communities in the Philadelphia suburbs since 2011. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.
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The complaint, made by a former aide, against the married lawmaker was revealed by news reports in January. The accuser's lawyer had called the allegations a "serious sexual harassment claim."
Meehan had described the woman in an interview as a "soulmate" and acknowledged that he became angry when she began dating another man, but he said he'd never sought a romantic relationship with her.
"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 upon his resignation. "And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff."
The 62-year-old married father eventually settled the case with taxpayer money while serving as a member of the House Ethics Committee. The case was bound by a non-disclosure agreement, which the accuser's attorney claimed Meehan violated by speaking publicly.
"I will pay $39,000 to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse for the severance payment that was made from my office account," Meehan said Friday "That payment will be made within 30 days of my resignation from the House of Representatives. I did not want to leave with any question of violating the trust of taxpayers."
Top Pennsylvania Democrats, including Gov. Tom Wolf, had called for Meehan to resign from office immediately. On Friday, Wolf's spokesman said a final decision about a special election to serve out Meehan's term would be announced in the near future.