Rory Riley-Topping is a former Republican House of Representatives staffer who accused California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of groping her at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner in 2014.
Riley-Topping, now a conservative columnist and consultant, told the Russia-owned network RT that Hunter grabbed her from behind at the event while “intoxicated” and “put his hand on my behind.”
Riley-Topping made the allegation after the Justice Department alleged that Hunter illegally used campaign funds to pursue five affairs with female lobbyists, his own aide, and a Republican leadership aide. Hunter and his wife were indicted last year after the Justice Department alleged they used $250,000 in campaign funds to fund their lavish lifestyle while deeply in debt.
Riley-Topping said the #MeToo movement gave her the courage to come forward after five years.
“Members of Congress are very powerful in this town and you don’t want to jeopardize your professional future because somebody has the potential to retaliate against you,” she said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rory Riley-Topping Says Rep. Duncan Hunter Groped Her in 2014
Riley-Topping and Hunter both attended a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner in 2014 while she served as Staff Director and Counsel for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, according to her official bio.
Riley-Topping told RT anchor Manila Chan that Hunter “had clearly appeared intoxicated and came up to me and said he wanted to speak to me about Agent Orange, which was an issue the committee was dealing with at the time.”
“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.’”
2. Riley-Topping Says She Told Rep. John Runyan About the Incident
Riley-Topping said that she “immediately pushed him away” and told former New Jersey Rep. John Runyan about the incident.
“I went up to Congressman Runyan and said ‘please get me out of here,’” she said. “And we left and I actually left my position on the committee shortly thereafter because it was not an environment that I felt comfortable working in after that.”
Runyan, a former NFL offensive tackle, served in Congress from 2011 until 2015.
After the interview, Riley-Topping tweeted, “five years later, it’s still uncomfortable to talk about.”
3. Riley-Topping Served on the House Veterans Committee for 3 Years
The alleged incident took place when Riley-Topping served as Staff Director and Counsel for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for Chairman Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican.
After leaving the committee, she served as a litigation staff attorney for the National Veterans Legal Services Program, where she represented veterans and survivors before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, according to her official bio.
She previously clerked for Chief Judge Lawrence B. Hagel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and served as an Associate Counsel to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
4. Riley-Topping is a Veterans Law & Policy Consultant
In recent years, Riley-Topping has been a conservative commentator, columnist, and founded Riley-Topping Consulting.
“She provides strategic, innovative and actionable solutions to her clients by utilizing her extensive knowledge of veterans law and policy from serving in all three branches of government and a national non-profit,” her bio says.
She graduated from College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. in History before earning her law degree at Quinnipiac University.
She has coached gymnastics and cheerleading for the Speical Olympics, according to her bio, and serves on the Board of Directors for Charlotte Bridge Home, a North Carolina-based non-profit that helps veterans transition home after returning from abroad.
Riley-Topping lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her fiance Richard, an Army veteran who served as an infantry officer as well as a JAG.
5. Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter Used Campaign Funds to Have 5 Affairs, DOJ Alleges
Hunter and his wife Margaret were indicted last year on 60 counts related to the Justice Department’s allegation that they illegally used campaign funds to pay for personal trips and other personal expenses.
Hunter blamed his wife for misusing the money and she later pleaded guilty to spending more than $200,000 on personal expenses in a conspiracy with her husband. She agreed to cooperate with the investigation into her husband and is expected to testify at his trial.
In a court filing Tuesday, the Justice Department alleged that Hunter used campaign funds to pursue extra-marital relationships with five women: three lobbyists, his own aide, and a staffer for a House Republican leadership member.
“All of the women with whom Hunter pursued these relationships were involved in politics in some manner, and Hunter sometimes met or socialized with them in professional settings,” prosecutors stated. “Evidence of the intimate, entirely personal quality of Hunter’s specific encounters with these women is essential to demonstrate that his spending to facilitate those encounters was improper.”
“I think when you have a married congressman who is targeting young staffers and lobbyists, that’s a big red flag,” Riley-Topping told RT. “We are seeing over and over again, unfortunately, that people are spending this money on personal expenses that are not related to their campaign.”