Here’s a depressing fact: Nine members of Congress have lost their jobs over allegations of sexual impropriety or related workplace misconduct since October.
The latest: Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., announced Friday he’ll resign from Congress after reports he paid a secret settlement to a staffer to whom he allegedly confessed his love.
Meehan had said in January that he would retire at the end of the year, but he decided to resign sooner as a congressional ethics probe into heats up.
Since allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced last year, the #MeToo era has brought down some of the most powerful people in politics, media and entertainment. At one point last December, three members of Congress lost their job in one week.
Meanwhile, legislation to make it easier for staffers to accuse powerful members of Congress and their top aides of misconduct has stalled.
Here’s a recap of the other misconduct allegations that have roiled Capitol Hill and cost a remarkable number of lawmakers their jobs:
Meehan: Let’s revisit his case, because it really is remarkable. He wrote what appeared to be love notes to a female staffer. When that became public, Meehan referred to the former aide in an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer as his “soul mate.” which he described as a “uniquely close person who is joined with you on a daily basis.” He later tried to clarify that by soul mate, he actually meant something more of an office buddy, someone “in which you both share the routine successes and strains of a work day. In no way did I intend that the use of that term would suggest a romantic partnership.”
Meehan announced Friday he’ll pay back the $39,000 of taxpayer money used for a settlement with the former staffer. The legislation in Congress would prevent members of Congress from making secret settlements using taxpayer dollars.
Blake Farenthold: Some of his scandals stretch back seven years. As I wrote earlier this month when the former Texas Republican announced his resignation: “Duck pajamas, a goofy grin and his arm slung around a lingerie model was just the start. The end for Farenthold resulted from accusations from staffers — male and female — of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.”
Like Meehan, Farenthold had said he would retire at the end of the year, then abruptly announced he was resigning immediately as he faced a House ethics investigation.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.: Esty is the only woman on this list. She announced earlier this month she wouldn’t seek reelection after The Washington Post and other news outlets revealed she let her chief of staff stay on the job for three months while knowing he allegedly threatened to kill another staffer whom he had dated.
Ruben Kihuen: In mid-December, the Nevada Democrat said he wouldn’t seek reelection amid sexual harassment allegations, including claims from women who worked for his campaign. Kihuen had just been elected to the House a year earlier and at 37, he is so far the youngest member of Congress to be felled by reports of misconduct.
Al Franken: Franken is the only senator so far to lose his job in the #MeToo era. By the time the Minnesota Democrat reluctantly resigned, he had been accused of groping multiple women over the span a decade.
On his way out the door in December, Franken apologized for making these women “feel badly,” but never admitted he did anything wrong. Instead he claimed he was a “warm hugger” and these women were simply mistaken.
Trent Franks: The same week Franken resigned, so did then-congressman Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, after news broke he offered a female staffer $5 million if she would carry his child. The woman told investigators Franks approached her with a written contract, The Post reported. Like many lawmakers on this list, he also resigned shortly after the House’s ethics committee investigation heated up. In this case, the committee of his peers said they would create an entire subcommittee to investigate Franks.
On Tuesday, a Democrat came within five points of winning Franks’s old seat.
Rep. John Conyers Jr.: Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, resigned the same week as Franks and Franken, after allegations from six women that, in a span of two decades, he behaved inappropriately or made sexual advances.
Conyers denied the allegations but House Democratic leadership, after initially defending him, succeeded in pushing out the 88-year-old lawmaker, one of the longest-serving in either party.
Rep. Joe Barton: The Texas Republican announced at the end of November that he would retire in 2018 after a nude photo of him circulated on the Internet. The photo, it turned out, revealed a secret relationship with a woman. Barton was separated but still legally married when his consensual relationship with the woman began.
But Barton’s story parallels the allegations of others on the list in one key way: He is accused of using his power as a member of Congress to investigate the woman for sharing the photo of him.
Rep. Tim Murphy: One of the first resignations of this era came in early October. Murphy, an eight-term Pennsylvania Republican, announced he would resign amid reports he asked a woman with whom he was having an affair with to get an abortion.
Murphy’s resignation came too early to be attributed to the nation’s current reckoning of sex and power. It happened on the same day that the New York Times published its investigation into Weinstein’s sexual impropriety.
But the fallout from Muphy is perhaps the most politically significant of this bunch. A Democrat, Conor Lamb, replaced Murphy in Congress in a special election in March that made House Republicans realize they could lose control of the chamber in November.