Katie Hill, the first-term Democratic congresswoman who resigned her House seat this week, delivered an impassioned farewell speech on Capitol Hill on Thursday, denouncing “gutter politics” and a double standard toward women.
Ms. Hill, who represented a district in Southern California, apologized to her family, her constituents and “to every little girl who looked up to me.” She added, “I hope you can forgive me.”
Ms. Hill, 32, said on Sunday she would resign in the face of an ethics investigation into allegations that she had a sexual relationship with a member of her congressional staff, a violation of House rules. Ms. Hill blamed her husband, whom she is divorcing, and Republican operatives for a “smear campaign” after the online publication of several nude photos.
“I will never shirk my responsibility for the sudden ending of my time here, but I have to say more because this is bigger than me,” she said in Thursday’s speech from the House floor. “I am leaving now because of a double standard. I am leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip. I’m leaving because I didn’t want to be peddled by papers and blogs and websites used by shameless operatives for the dirtiest gutter politics I’ve ever seen, and the right-wing media to drive clicks and expand their audience by distributing intimate photographs of me taken without my knowledge — let alone my consent — for the sexual entertainment of millions.”
Ms. Hill said that she wasn’t ready to leave Congress after less than 10 months, and that she had been subjected to threats online.
“I’m leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching,” she said.
Ms. Hill defeated a Republican incumbent, Steve Knight, in November to become the representative for California’s 25th District.