A Republican congressman from North Carolina paid severance to a top aide for three months after the staffer left his post in May, despite reported complaints of sexual harassment against that staffer dating back to March.
The Huffington Post reported late Monday that at least three female staffers to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) complained that the congressman’s former chief of staff, Kenny West (pictured above), was sexually harassing his subordinates.
The report cited four anonymous sources close to the situation who said the female staffers notified Meadows of the alleged harassment in March. Meadows reportedly barred West from his Washington D.C. office and reassigned him to his North Carolina district office. West then departed Meadows’ office on May 21, according to The Huffington Post.
One anonymous former female staffer told the publication that West would often make female staffers uncomfortable by insisting they hold his hands and pray with him. “I know that the whole ‘hold my hands and pray’ thing was not unique to me,” she said.
West told The Huffington Post he was “not aware” of the reports of sexual harassment and referred further questions to Meadows’ office. Meadows’ office didn’t respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Meadows made headlines this summer for introducing a symbolic resolution to oust House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and for threatening a government shutdown in order to defund Planned Parenthood. But he also attracted attention in September when West’s hefty severance package came to light.
Politico reported in September that West was paid through Aug. 19 despite departing Meadows’ office in May. The publication suggested the severance pay may have violated ethics rules, as the House Ethics Manual stipulates that “compensation may be received only for duties performed within the preceding month” while the Members’ Congressional Handbook says an employee must “perform official duties commensurate with the compensation received.”
Notably, West challenged Meadows in the GOP primary for his congressional seat in 2012. The Huffington Post noted that West argued during his failed campaign that “Meadows was unfit due to a character issue that West often hinted at, but never discussed publicly.”