Congressman, ousted from ethics panel, asks it to investigate him

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Less than three days after he was removed from the U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee, Republican lawmaker Patrick Meehan asked the panel to investigate allegations he engaged in sexual harassment and misused official resources.

The committee on Monday said it had become aware of public allegations about the misconduct and had received a written request from Meehan to investigate. The allegations published in the New York Times on Saturday led Speaker Paul Ryan to pull Meehan from the committee.

Ryan also told Meehan to repay any taxpayer funds, reported to total thousands, used to settle a former female aide’s claim that Meehan had made unwanted sexual advances.

Meehan denied the allegations of inappropriate behavior.

His spokesman, John Elizandro, on Saturday said Meehan “believes there must be real reform to the process for resolving complaints so that those who are truly wronged are given a fair forum to be heard and vindicated, and those accused are provided with an ability to respond to baseless accusations.”

In its statement, the committee said its announcement “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”

Meehan’s request came after lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would stop House members from using public funds for awards or settlements in sexual harassment cases.

In recent months, a wave of women and men have accused high-powered men in entertainment, the news media and government of harassment or abuse. When that wave swept through Capitol Hill, the congressional Office of Compliance revealed it had paid out more than $160,000 in the last decade to settle sexual harassment or discrimination claims against lawmakers, sparking outrage that public funds may have been used hush money.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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