Katie Hill Speaks Out on Ex-Friend Matt Gaetz’s Alleged Behavior and ‘Twist of Irony’ After He Defended Her
Former Democratic congresswoman Katie Hill is re-examining her unlikely bond with Republican colleague Matt Gaetz in the wake of reports he is being investigated for possible sex crimes, which he denies.
In a new op-ed for Vanity Fair, published on Monday, Hill wrote that "if recent reports are true … he should resign immediately."
"There are moments when you learn that someone you've considered a friend has done something abhorrent," Hill wrote. "You have to decide whether to stick by them, stay silent, or speak out against them … Sometimes it's a tough call. But sometimes it's not."
Last week, The New York Times published a story detailing how, according to its sources, the 38-year-old Gaetz was "being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him."
Gaetz has adamantly denied any wrongdoing and said he won't resign. "I'm going to fight like hell for my constituents and the country I deeply love," he wrote in his own op-ed this week.
Hill wrote in Vanity Fair that after the initial reporting of the federal probe, she "hoped that the investigation would ultimately clear him."
But a subsequent CNN report alleged that Gaetz had also shown at least two lawmakers photos and videos of naked women while on the floor of the House of Representatives — raising questions about whether the women knew their photos were being shared.
It was an uncomfortable parallel to Hill's own experience, she wrote: "If true, Matt had engaged in the very practice he'd defended me from."
Hill was referencing a complicated scandal that cut short her own career in 2019, after she was accused of having a relationship with a staffer in her office as part of a broader set of leaks about her personal life, including intimate photos which she blamed on her now ex-husband (who said he wasn't responsible and that his computer was hacked.)
In October 2019, a conservative website had published the images — which were taken without her consent, Hill said — of the freshman Democrat from California showing her naked with a female campaign aide.
The website also wrote that Hill and Kenny Heslep, her ex, had been in a consensual three-way relationship with the woman. (Hill was one of the first openly bisexual people ever elected to Congress.)
Hill admitted to that relationship, which some ethicists criticized, noting the power imbalance, but she denied another claim she had a relationship with a staffer in her congressional office.
The House Ethics Committee announced it would launch a preliminary investigation into the matter, citing #MeToo-era rules rules prohibiting legislators from engaging in relationships with their aides. Hill resigned shortly thereafter.
She also asked Capitol Police to investigate the "potential legal violations" of the leaked photos and she sued various right-wing outlets that published them.
At the time, Gaetz served as a staunch ally, defending Hill on Twitter and saying "the only person who seems to have a gripe is [Hill]s soon-to-be-ex."
Now, "in a twist of irony" Hill wrote in Vanity Fair, Gaetz is being accused of "the same crime of which I was a victim: the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images."
Though Gaetz was "one of the few colleagues who came to my defense when it happened to me," Hill wrote that sharing images of someone without their consent is wrong no matter the circumstances.
"Even if he was just showing off and meant no harm to those women, it's still unacceptable," Hill wrote, adding that Gaetz recently voted against the SHIELD Act, which would make it a federal crime to knowingly distribute an intimate photo of someone without their permission.
Hill had spoken warmly about Gaetz in the past, tweeting in in June 2020 to defend the Republican's relationship with a Cuban teen named Nestor whom he helped parent.
In Vanity Fair, Hill wrote that they became friends after Gaetz helped her find a briefing room early in her time in Congress, when they were on the House Armed Services Committee.
"We rarely agreed on policy and we never agreed on Trump, but as two young people of the same generation serving in Congress on the same committee, we got along and often chatted about life and shared experiences," she wrote.
"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," she wrote.
Hill now hasn't spoken to Gaetz in some time, however. After he echoed former President Donald Trump's election fraud lies following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, she wrote that she "questioned how I could have ever considered us friends" and "our occasional texts stopped altogether."
"Let me state it as clearly as possible: If, despite his denials, Matt Gaetz did have sex with a minor, if he did provide girls and young women with drugs and money and gifts in exchange for sex, if he did ask these girls and young women to recruit other women for the same purpose, and if he did show his colleagues images of nude women without their consent, he needs to be held responsible," Hill wrote. "Some of these actions are criminal and some of them should be. All are morally reprehensible and unacceptable for a lawmaker."
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