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Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) resigns amidst ethics probe

Rep. Pat Meehan (eight) (R-Pa.) talks to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) before a House Oversight Committee hearing on September 2013 in Washington, D.C. Meehan, who was the subject of an ethics investigation, resigned on Friday. (2013 file photo/Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), who was facing a congressional ethics investigation for allegedly using nearly $40,000 in taxpayer money to pay off a sexual harassment claim, has announced his resignation. He insisted that he will pay back the money.

Meehan notified Pennsylvania Gov.  Tom Wolf (D) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Why is Meehan resignng?

Meehan paid $39,000 in congressional funds to one of his former aides, who claimed that the congressman had made repeated sexual advances, and that he had gotten hostile when she refused him.

Meehan denied these accusations, and insisted that he had always remained faithful to his wife, but also told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the aide was his “soul mate.” He said he was not interested in a sexual relationship, but that he was interested in having a soul mate so that they could “go through remarkable experiences together.”

What did Meehan have to say?

In an official statement, Meehan said:

“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.

He also insisted that he would pay the $39,000 back to the U.S. Treasury “within 30 days” of his resignation. He referred to the initial sum as a “severance payment that was made from my office account.”

Sound familiar?

This isn’t the first time a member of Congress has promised to pay back money used to settle a suit.

Before Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) resigned on April 6, he promised to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money that he had used to pay off a similar harassment claim.

In December, Farenthold told KRIS-TV in Texas that he was “going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan or somebody and say, 'Look, here's the amount of my settlement. Give it back to the taxpayers.' I want to be clear that I didn't do anything wrong, but I also don't want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this.”

The Texas Tribune reported on Tuesday that no payment from Farenthold had yet been made.

This is not just a Republican problem. Rep John Conyers (R-Mich.) paid out $27,000 in taxpayer money in 2015, to settle a harassment claim of his own. Conyers resigned in December.

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