Rep: Pat Meehan: I didn't harass my much younger woman staffer, I just thought she was my soulmate

He’s married, has three kids, is a former U.S. Attorney(!), a Republican (alas), and oh, by the way, also sits on the House Ethics Committee that’s tasked with policing sexual malefactors in the lower chamber. Wait, check that: He *used* to sit on the Ethics Committee. He was removed over the weekend after the NYT blew him up by exposing a confidential settlement he reached with a woman staffer, who filed a misconduct complaint after he, ahem, professed his feelings. Actual quote:

Several of those interviewed traced the woman’s difficulties in Mr. Meehan’s office to 2016, when a senior male member of the office staff professed his romantic attraction to the woman. She reported the advance to Mr. Meehan, and the senior employee left his job after reaching an agreement with Mr. Meehan, according to a person with direct knowledge of the episode who worked in the office. Not long after, Mr. Meehan signaled his own romantic desires to the woman.

When he found out she had a serious boyfriend, he reportedly started getting pissy with her around the office, creating an atmosphere so uncomfortable for her that she eventually began working from home, then left the office and filed a complaint, then had trouble finding work on the Hill and moved back home with her parents, then moved abroad. And before you ask, yes, I do feel silly now for goofing on the minor childishness of Susan Collins and her “talking stick” having just learned that Pat Meehan was running around acting like a 12-year-old who didn’t get the answer he wanted on a “Do you like me? If yes, check this box” note to a girl he had a crush on.

A la John Conyers, the settlement was paid out of Meehan’s taxpayer-funded House office budget as severance, effectively disguising the nature of the payment to the outside world and minimizing accountability. Have I mentioned yet that he’s a former U.S. Attorney and, until recently, a member of the Ethics Committee?

The Philadelphia Inquirer squeezed him for an interview today. What the hell were you thinking? the paper asked. You’ve got the wrong idea, said Meehan. It wasn’t about sex. IT WAS WUV:

He said he told the aide “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. I think that the idea of soul mate is that sort of person that out go through remarkable experiences together.”…

Asked if a subordinate might not feel comfortable expressing discomfort or rejecting the note, Meehan said “in hindsight” he should “should have been looking at it from the perspective of a subordinate and a superior.

But he quickly added that in his office “there is no hierarchy – we call it team Meehan.”

Former U.S. Attorney. Didn’t see the harassment problem in telling a much younger woman who worked for him that she was his soulmate because, supposedly, they’re on the same hierarchy-less team. Which is named after him.

Oh, and as for his pubescent fit of jealousy upon learning that she was going steady with someone else and wouldn’t be attending the Soulmates Under The Sea Dance with him:

He said he felt bad about lashing out in his office when told of the woman’s relationship, attributing it to the tension-filled stretch around the House GOP votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, when he faced intense pressure from both sides of the debate.

Unaffordable premiums, statist mandates, destabilized insurance markets, and now sixtysomething congressmen leching on their staff. Add this to the many evils ObamaCare has visited upon America.

As terribly embarrassing as this episode is, I’d still rank it a ways below the cringe-storm that was Mark Sanford’s “Appalachian trail” meltdown as governor of South Carolina and somewhere along the same spectrum as Trent Franks’s “Will you have my baby?” entreaties to his own congressional staff. Meehan’s impropriety doesn’t match either for sheer weirdness, but the fact that he’s made a spectacle of his infatuation with his staffer makes me burn with vicarious shame for him. If he had a shred of dignity he’d resign and work on repairing the damage to his family, but then if he had a shred of dignity he would have swallowed hard, congratulated his staffer on her relationship with her boyfriend, and had the basic good sense to keep the grade-school “soulmate” slobbering to himself.

I wonder how many young women go to work for men they see as mentors or “father figures,” the term the Times used to describe the relationship between Meehan and his staffer, only to find that their ersatz “father” has designs on their heart or, more often, their body. Imagine the emotional agony of that bait-and-switch. Most men will never experience it, at least not in the junior role. For women I bet it’s far more common than anyone thinks. What percentage ever go to the trouble of filing a complaint and toughing out the sh*tstorm that invariably follows the “ahh wuv yooooo” profession from boss-dad?