Speed Reads

Um...

GOP congressman denies harassing longtime aide he thought was his 'soul mate'

In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that most PR professionals would have advised against, Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) admitted he reacted "poorly" when a longtime aide said she had a new boyfriend and was thinking about leaving her job, but said he felt such strong feelings for her because they were "soul mates."

The New York Times reported last week that Meehan, 62, used taxpayer money to settle a case with the former aide, after she accused him of sexual misconduct. Meehan was removed from the House Ethics Committee over the weekend, and while he told the Inquirer that the Times' timeline was correct, he said he never tried to act on his romantic feelings for the aide, who is decades younger than him.

He had developed strong feelings of affection for the aide while working closely with her, Meehan said, and when she got a boyfriend, he'd told her "that I was a happily married man and I was not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship, but we were soul mates," defining "soul mate" as "that sort of person that you go through remarkable experiences together." He said he told her all this so he wouldn't be tempted into an inappropriate relationship, and admitted he gave her a hug, which he often did, but it "may have been longer that night than it needed to be."

Meehan also shared with the Inquirer a personal letter he later wrote to the woman, which thanked God for "putting you into my life," and his office said she responded with a text thanking him "for your very kind words and for your friendship." Meehan denied ever harassing the aide, and said any hostility wasn't because she rebuffed his advances but due to stress he felt over important votes. He also said he paid her a secret "severance" on the advice of House attorneys. Read Meehan's entire letter, plus a response from the former aide's lawyer, at the Inquirer.