Former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill has spoken out four months after her decision to quit Congress, saying that she believes the fact that she’s a bisexual woman played a huge part in “sensationalizing” the scandal that brought an abrupt and premature end to her political career.
Hill announced in October 2019 that she would quit after the House Ethics Committee said that it would investigate her for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of her congressional staffers—an allegation she still strongly denies. Hill has admitted to having a relationship with a campaign staffer but says that took place before she was in Congress.
While those allegations were making headlines, she also suffered the humiliation of having intimate photos of her published by The Daily Mail. Hill said at the time that the allegations against her and the scandal that was whipped up around it were being orchestrated by a “monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation” and that she was scared of “what might come next,” so felt she had to go.
Four months on, Hill calmly reflected on her decision to resign in an interview with George Stephanopoulos from ABC News. In the interview, broadcast Thursday on Good Morning America, she said, “I strongly feel that I made the right call in stepping down, for several reasons... One of which is that I did not want to be a liability to my colleagues.”
Hill reiterated the point from her resignation letter, that she had to leave before the scandal could get any worse. Hill said, “We knew from the people who had the photos, that had obtained the photos, that there were hundreds more images and text messages that were out there, that I had no idea what they could be or how they could be taken out of context.”
The former congresswoman said a “huge part” of the reason her scandal exploded, and forced her away from Capitol Hill, is because she’s a bisexual woman. As sex scandals involving women politicians are rarer than with men, she said the media got overly excited about it, so it generated more headlines, for longer than it would for a straight man.
“There’s a fantasy element of it,” Hill said. “There’s biphobia that is rampant still, and certainly a misunderstanding of what bisexuality is. It’s sensationalizing. The headlines are much, much better than ‘Congresswoman has, you know, affair with a former campaign staffer.’”
Hill also told Stephanopoulos that she contemplated suicide in the wake of the scandal, but said the support of her family ultimately stopped her. The former congresswoman explained: “Of all the girls and young women who looked up to me, who saw this happen to me, if the ultimate outcome was that this destroyed me and I committed suicide ,then what does that tell them? That couldn’t be my final story.”
Talking about the intimate photos of her that were published, she said she still thinks her ex-husband was behind the leak, but added that she disagreed with the term “revenge porn.”
Hill said, “It implies A) that there's something to be taking revenge for, right? That the woman maybe did something wrong in the first place. And pornography also could imply that... it was consensual, and it's not.” Representatives for ex-husband Kenny Heslep denied that he was behind the leaked photos.
ABC News reports that, since she left Congress, Hill has launched a group called HER Time, which supports women who are standing for election.