Rep. Duncan Hunter denied an accusation from a former Capitol Hill staffer who said he drunkenly asked for her number and put his hand on her behind in 2014.
Rory Riley-Topping on Wednesday told RT America the incident happened at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner while she was working for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. On Thursday Hunter denied the allegations, calling them “total baloney.”
Riley-Topping said Hunter apparently approached her, and said he wanted to talk about Agent Orange — a topic Riley-Topping said the committee was handling at the time.
The allegation adds to a list of issues the indicted California Republican faces.
Riley-Topping said she would follow up on it and reach out to his staff.
“And he leaned into me very closely and said, ‘No, I want to talk to you,’” she recalled. “And I felt very uncomfortable and tried to back up, and he reached around and put his hand on my behind and said, ‘Let me give you my cell phone number.’”
Riley-Topping told RT America she then backed up and pushed Hunter away before going to former New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan, who helped her leave the situation.
The incident prompted her to leave the job, she said.
“I actually left my position on the committee shortly thereafter because it was not an environment that I felt comfortable working in after that,” Riley-Topping said.
She told RT she was coming forward now because she didn’t feel comfortable coming forward five years ago, and feared retaliation.
Two friends of Riley-Topping said in interviews with Roll Call that she described the incident to them soon after it happened in 2014.
Riley-Topping’s husband said in a tweet that she told him about Hunter’s behavior the same night.
“We had the same discussion so many families have about whether reporting it would make any difference,” he said.
As he was heading into votes Thursday, Hunter denied an allegation that he grabbed Riley-Topping’s behind in 2014. Asked if he had any response to the allegation, Hunter said, “No, total baloney.”
When asked why he described the allegations that way, Hunter said, “Because it’s not true.”
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors alleged in a court filing that Hunter illegally used campaign donations to finance extramarital affairs involving women he worked with, including one of his aides. The Justice Department filing in the U.S. District Court in Southern California, says he used campaign donations to pay for ski trips, nights out in Washington, D.C., and Uber rides between his office and the homes of the women.
Hunter is scheduled for trial in September on 60 charges that include conspiracy, theft of campaign funds and wire fraud for allegedly using his campaign committee as a personal fund. The congressman plans to go to trial and fight the charges.
“You have criminally political prosecutors, who violated the Hatch Act, on a personal smear campaign,” Hunter told reporters on his way to vote Tuesday.
“I’m going to trial on this, so I’m not going to give you a statement on their allegations except that they are politically criminal prosecutors,” he added.
Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.