Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), who previously announced his retirement from Congress following reports he had paid a secret settlement to a staffer who accused him of harassment, resigned outright Friday.
His resignation came as the House Ethics Committee continued a probe into his behavior that could have resulted in serious sanctions. The former aide, a younger woman, alleged that Meehan had confessed romantic feelings for her after she became involved with another man. Meehan, she alleged, later retaliated after she repelled his advances.
"I have decided that stepping down now is in the interest of the constituents I have been honored to serve," Meehan said in a statement. "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. And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff."
Meehan said that within 30 days he will repay taxpayers for the $39,000 settlement that was paid as a severance payment to his former staffer.
"I did not want to leave with any question of violating the trust of taxpayers," he said, adding: "Though I wish my time in Congress would have finished in a more satisfying manner, I am proud of our accomplishments and thank the residents of my District for their confidence in me over the last eight years. I recognize that there are constituents who are disappointed in the manner in which I handled the situation that [led] to my decision not to seek re-election and wish I had done better by them."
The statement said Meehan "has no future plans to discuss at this time."