A Pennsylvania Republican who used taxpayer money to settle a former aide's sexual harassment charges has abruptly resigned from Congress.
Four-term Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan had already made a decision to not seek re-election this fall.
"I will pay 39,000.00 dollars to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse for the severance payment that was made from my office account".
"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 wrong doing, 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 his letter Friday, Meehan said he believed the investigation would have absolved him.
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In his statement, Meehan said that he wished his congressional career "would have finished in a more satisfying manner" but said he was proud of his accomplishments during eight years in office.
Meehan's retirement has left his open seat from Philadelphia's suburbs as a toss-up in this November's elections, in which Democrats are hoping to capture House control. His office said Friday that Wolf had yet to make a decision on a date.
He said he became upset when he learned the woman, who worked for him for seven years, was involved with someone else.
"It's a really a close call and could go either way", Campaign Legal Center's Adav Noti said on the question of whether the Federal Election Commission would allow the use of campaign funds to pay harassment claims or severance payments.
The complaint against the married lawmaker was revealed by news reports in January.
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Debra Katz, an attorney for the former aide, accused Meehan of avoiding responsibility and a full review of his conduct by leaving office before the House Ethics Committee could complete its investigation into his actions.
This isn't the first time a member of Congress has promised to pay back money used to settle a suit.
The Cook Political Report labels Pennsylvania's Seventh District, which Meehan has represented since 2010, as leaning Democratic in the upcoming election.
Meehan's district is considered among the most gerrymandered in the country.
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