Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., delivered a fiery farewell speech on the House floor Thursday, blasting the "dirtiest gutter politics I've ever seen" shortly after casting her vote to approve procedures for the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Hill announced her resignation Sunday amid an ethics investigation over an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a staffer and after nude pictures of her were published online.
"I wasn't ready for my time here to come to an end so soon," the freshman lawmaker said Thursday.
"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," Hill told her colleagues.
"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.
She apologized to her family, friends and supporters for "my faults" and thanked them for standing by her, but said she'd been warned conservative operatives had "hundreds more" pictures they planned on releasing "bit by bit until they broke me down to nothing while they used my faults and my past to distract from the things that matter most."
"I'm scared," Hill acknowledged. "Today is the first time I've left my apartment since the photos taken without my consent were released."
She said she didn't want to be a distraction to the important work her colleagues are doing.
"There's only one investigation that deserves the attention of this country and that's the one we voted on today," she said.
Hill announced her resignation in a letter she posted on Twitter on Sunday, days after it was reported that the House Ethics Committee had opened an investigation into allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. In a statement, she admitted to having a consensual relationship with someone on her campaign and apologized, but denied having an affair with a member of her staff after her election.
Unconfirmed allegations about her personal life were reported by conservative site Red State, which along with the Daily Mail published nude photos of the congresswoman without her consent.
Hill, who identifies as bisexual, blamed the disclosures on her estranged husband, Kenny Heslep. According to court documents obtained by CNBC, the two were married for nine years before Heslep filed for divorce in Los Angeles in July.
“I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” Hill said in a statement after the RedState story.
When she announced her resignation, she hinted at legal action over the photographs.
"Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. It's also illegal, and we a currently pursuing all of our available legal options," she wrote.
Attorney Carrie Goldberg, of the victims' rights law firm C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, now represents Hill, a firm spokesperson confirmed to NBC News. They are pursuing a legal remedy for the leaked photos.
Hill, whose last day in office is Friday, was the executive director of a homeless services organization before her election last year.
In a statement Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Hill made "a great contribution as a leader of the Freshman Class."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to announce a date for special election to fill Hill's seat. Among those planning a run is former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI during its investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election.