Washington — Former Congresswoman Katie Hill, a Democrat from California who resigned amid allegations of sexual relationships with two members of her staff, called on Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, to step down from Congress if allegations of sexual misconduct against him are found to be true.
In an op-ed for Vanity Fair published Monday, Hill, who developed a friendship with Gaetz during their time in the House together, called the claims against the Florida congressman "morally reprehensible and unacceptable for a lawmaker."
Gaetz is facing allegations of a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for potential violations of sex trafficking laws. A CNN report also claims he showed other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women, including while on the House floor.
"If there is even a fraction of truth to these reports, he should resign immediately," Hill wrote.
But Gaetz has denied the allegations against him and instead claims he and his family are the victims of an attempted extortion, which was reported to the FBI. In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner on Monday, the Florida Republican said he is "absolutely not resigning."
"My lifestyle of yesteryear may be different from how I live now, but it was not and is not illegal," he said.
Gaetz also noted he defended Hill "when her own Democratic colleagues wouldn't."
Hill resigned her seat in Congress in 2019 after she admitted to an extramarital relationship with a campaign aide and faced accusations she had a sexual relationship with a member of her congressional staff. Details of the relationship with the former campaign aide and nude photos of Hill were published by a conservative blog.
Hill, a Democrat, and Gaetz shared what Hill calls an "unlikely" friendship, given their profound differences over policy and President Trump, but they were both young, served on the Armed Services Committee together and found themselves chatting often "about life and shared experiences."
Gaetz publicly supported Hill after the photos were leaked, and she said the two continued to correspond after she left Congress. Their conversations, however, petered out after the presidential election as Mr. Trump and his conservative supporters peddled false claims the election was rigged against him, Hill said.
"Matt was the first member of Congress who publicly and unapologetically defended me, saying that while I might have made mistakes, I was a victim in this circumstance," Hill wrote in her op-ed. "At one of the darkest moments of my life, when I was feeling more alone than I ever had, Matt stood up for me — and that really mattered."
Referencing the CNN report that Gaetz shared photo and videos of naked women, Hill noted the congressman "had engaged in the very practice he'd defended me from."
"Sharing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent should be illegal, plain and simple," she wrote. "It shouldn't matter if it was done to hurt someone, as with revenge porn, or to brag about your sexual conquests, like Matt has been accused of doing."
She said she hoped the Justice Department's investigation would clear Gaetz of any wrongdoing.