LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who was a key figure in the FBI's Russia probe, filed paperwork Tuesday to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Democrat Katie Hill.
Papadopoulos didn't immediately comment, but on Sunday he tweeted, "I love my state too much to see it run down by candidates like Hill. All talk, no action, and a bunch of sellouts."
Hill, whose district covers Los Angeles County, announced her resignation on Sunday amid an ethics probe into allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a staff member.
She's admitted to a consensual relationship with a campaign staff member, but denied one with a congressional staff member, which would violate U.S. House rules. She's called herself the victim of revenge porn by an abusive husband she is divorcing.
Papadopoulos, meanwhile, was a key figure in the FBI's Russia probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. That investigation began after revelations that Papadopoulos had learned in 2016 from a Maltese professor that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. He then used that connection to try to set up a meeting between President Donald Trump, then a candidate, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Papadopoulos eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and cooperated in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He was sentenced in fall 2018 to 14 days in prison.
He enters a field of at least three other Republicans and one Democrat. The other Republicans are Navy veteran Mike Garcia, bank executive Angela Jacobs Underwood and Mark Cripe, who works for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Former Republican Rep. Steve Knight, who lost the seat to Hill in 2018, is also considering running.
The seat was the last Los Angeles County seat to be held by Republicans before Hill's victory and was one of seven Democrats flipped last year.
State Assemblywoman Christy Smith is the only Democrat in the race so far. She quickly criticized Papadopoulos on Tuesday.
"If he pled guilty to lying to the FBI - how do we know he'll tell us the truth?" Smith tweeted. "We deserve someone from our community serving as our voice - not (Trump's) wannabe political hack!"
A special election to fill Hill's seat cannot be set by Gov. Gavin Newsom until she officially leaves Congress, which she has not done. It's possible there is no special election, depending on how long she waits to leave office. That would make the next election for the seat in November 2020.