As traffic rushed by Rep. Patrick Meehan’s district office in Springfield, Pennsylvania, on Monday, two Democratic candidates hoping to unseat the GOP congressman stood alongside 50 or so picketers calling for him to step down.
“If he doesn’t resign, they should take away his committee assignments,” Daniel Muroff, a former chief of staff on Capitol Hill who has raised the most money of any Democratic challenger still in the race, said of Meehan, in an interview with the Delaware County Daily Times News.
Medical research scientist Molly Sheehan, the second-highest earner among Democratic candidates, also attended the protest. The allegations of misconduct against Meehan showed why the U.S. needs more women in office, Sheehan said over the weekend.
Both called for Meehan’s resignation.
Meehan denied allegations of misconduct Saturday following a New York Times story that the Pennsylvania Republican used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment case. The newspaper reported that the four-term lawmaker made unwanted romantic advances toward a female staffer in 2016.
In an apparent effort to clear his name, Meehan submitted a written request to the House Ethics Committee that it review the allegations, and asked that his accuser’s lawyers in the settlement unseal the nondisclosure agreement from the case for an open and transparent investigation.
Democrats have already targeted Pennsylvania’s 7th District, which Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016. Meehan still sailed to a comfortable 19-point win.
But Meehan’s use of taxpayer dollars is “tailor-made for Democratic attacks,” Nathan L. Gonzales of Inside Elections wrote Monday in changing the has changing the race’s rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.
Former Congresswomen Reflect on Sexual Harassment Issues
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin removed Meehan from the Ethics Committee over the weekend ahead of its investigation, but has not asked him to resign as the investigation process begins.
With the House set to pass a bipartisan bill to overhaul the process by which it handles claims of sexual harassment, “the speaker will apply these new standards to the allegations made against Mr. Meehan,” Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
“The new reforms going into place bar the use of taxpayer money to pay settlements, and so the speaker has also told Mr. Meehan that he should repay whatever taxpayer funds were used to settle this case,” she said.
Daylin Leach, once the top-earning Democratic candidate in the race, dropped from contention in December amid his own battles against sexual misconduct allegations.
Shelly Chauncey, a former officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, could emerge as a potent force in the race. The Democratic candidate was scheduled to meet with the DCCC over the weekend and has been “in discussions” with EMILY’s List, per a Philly.com report.