Former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer Shelly Chauncey announced her candidacy for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District on Monday.

“I’m running for Congress in the community where I’ve lived for years because I see it as a moral obligation,” said Chauncey, of Glen Mills, in a release. “I’m running because we aren’t going to see real change in Washington unless we send different kinds of people there ... people who don’t drive a pick-up truck in a campaign ad, but who actually drive one in real life. People who can speak to the experience most people have to the chaos politicians are creating in Washington.”

Chauncey, 37, is a political newcomer. She grew up on a small family farm, the daughter of a prison guard and a teacher, according to the release, and worked two jobs to pay for college, graduating from Meredith College with a degree in political science.

A cancer survivor and mother of three, Chauncey joined the CIA as a secretary out of college and spent more than a decade with the agency, eventually rising through the ranks to become a counter-intelligence officer. She worked undercover in Latin America, East Asia and the United States, providing logistical and counter-intelligence support to operatives overseas, according to the release.

She is also a graduate of Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law and currently works as a peer counselor and mental health ambassador. She has adopted a special-needs child out of foster care and is an advocate for that community as well.

Chauncey filed her candidacy prior to a story in The New York Times over the weekend revealing incumbent U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, allegedly used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former aide while sitting on the House Ethics Committee.

“These disturbing allegations of harassment followed by a secret payout of taxpayer dollars are, sadly, business as usual in Washington,” said Chauncey. “It’s beyond dispute that Congressman Meehan hypocritically postured as a reformer on the sexual harassment process while authorizing a secret payout. The people of our area deserve better than this.”

Meehan has denied the charges, but was removed from his seat on the Ethics Committee Saturday. The settlement allegedly came from Meehan’s office budget and not a separate workplace misconduct account maintained by the Office of Compliance that has recently made headlines.

Chauncey also criticized Meehan for his vote last month in favor of a tax plan championed by Republican President Donald Trump, saying he had “lost touch with the people he should be representing.”

Chauncey’s campaign launch comes after Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach decided to “step back” from his own 7th District campaign in the wake of allegations that he either inappropriately touched women or made sexually charged jokes that left some feeling uncomfortable.

Leach has not officially withdrawn from the race and did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The other Democratic candidates vying for the seat are attorney Dan Muroff, bioengineer Molly Sheehan, Realtor Elizabeth Moro and information technology consultant Drew McGinty.

Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman David Landau described Chauncey as “impressive” Monday, saying her credentials as a service member and story as a self-made woman would resonate well with voters looking for a strong female candidate.

“It’s certainly going to shake the primary race up,” said Landau. “Her personal story – she’s overcome a lot of obstacles in her life. I think that she certainly has a story to tell the voters as to why she should be their nominee.”

On top if that, Landau noted the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision Monday invalidating the state’s 2011 Congressional maps as unconstitutional throws the entire race “up in the air.”

Landau said the party is currently evaluating candidates and is expected to meet Feb. 18 to determine who should receive the party backing.

“As far as the party’s concerned, the race is still wide open, no endorsements have been made,” he said. “Jumping in now … she certainly has an opportunity to rise to the top.”

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