Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who was recently booted from House Ethics Committee, on Tuesday said he did not pursue a relationship with a younger aide who later accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation, but nevertheless considered her “a soul mate.”
The New York Times reported over the weekend that Meehan settled a sexual misconduct complaint with the former aide.
Meehan told Philly.com that he “developed an affection” for the decades-younger aide, whose name has not been made public, and “was struggling to make sure” that it would not affect their “professional relationship.”
“Sometimes I have the tendency to lash out to others on the staff,” Meehan said, “and you go hardest on the ones that you care the most about.”
Meehan claimed that he lashed out against the aide when she told him she was in a relationship because he was stressed about Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.
He said he later sent the aide a congratulatory letter about her relationship so that he “didn’t let that kind of thing which was growing just as a natural result of a relationship to step into a place that it ought not be.”
In the letter, Meehan called the aide “a complete partner” who brought him “much happiness.”
Meehan said he told the aide that he was “happily married” and “not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship.”
“But we were soul mates,” he said. “I think that the idea of soul mate is that sort of person that you go through remarkable experiences together.”
Meehan claimed that he remained loyal to his wife throughout and said that “in hindsight” he should have considered his position of power over the aide, but claimed “there is no hierarchy” in his office.
“We call it team Meehan,” he said.
Meehan said he would repay the settlement, which he referred to as a “severance” and which was paid from public funds, if the committee he serves on determines that his behavior constituted harassment.
The New York Times on Saturday reported that the settlement payment was paid out from a congressional office fund and totaled thousands of dollars.