GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan stepping down

Rep. Patrick Meehan announced he is resigning from the House effective Friday.

The Pennsylvania Republican said in January he would not seek re-election, while under fire for using taxpayer money for a payment to a former staff member after a sexual harassment accusation.

“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,” he said in statement Friday. “And since I have chosen to resign, the inquiry will not become a burden to taxpayers and committee staff.”

He also announced he’d pay back the $39,000 used to settle the sexual harassment accusation.

“I will pay $39,000.00 to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse for the severance payment that was made from my office account,” he said. “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.”

Meehan maintained he never was unfaithful to his wife. He said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that while he had developed deep “affection” for a former staffer and saw her as a “soul mate,” he never pursued a romantic relationship with her, contrary to her claims.