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By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic Representative Katie Hill blasted a “misogynistic culture” on Thursday as she resigned from Congress after facing accusations of sexual relations with her staffers.
Hill, a 32-year-old Democrat who was under investigation by the House of Representatives Ethics Committee, apologized for her behavior but also denounced “gutter politics” and the “right-wing media” for publishing intimate photos.
“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 in a farewell speech on the House floor.
“Yet a man who brags about his sexual predation … sits in the highest office of the land,” Hill said, in apparent reference to President Donald Trump.
More than a dozen women have accused Trump, a Republican, of making unwanted sexual advances against them years before he entered politics. Trump has denied the accusations.
Hill, who is going through a divorce, has blamed her husband for a “smear campaign” against her, and has said she is pursuing legal options.
She said Thursday marked the first time she had left her apartment since the photos were published earlier this month, adding that thousands of “vile threatening emails, calls and texts” had made her fear for her life.
Hill has apologized for having an “inappropriate” relationship with a campaign staffer before entering Congress. But she has denied other accusations that she had a relationship with a congressional staffer.
Hill defeated incumbent Republican Steve Knight in a district north of Los Angeles last year to help the Democrats win control of the House. Her district is seen by election analysts as one of the most competitive in the country.
While Hill’s departure could help Republicans win back her seat in November 2020, they still face an uphill climb in their effort to regain control of the House.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Andy Sullivan and Tom Brown)