Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) announced Sunday evening that she is resigning from Congress after she was accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a congressional staffer, and she admitted to having a relationship with a campaign staffer.
“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” Hill said in a statement. “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country.
The first allegation against the freshman Democrat came last week, when an article on RedState.com reported that she was in a sexual relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly. Hill denied the accusation, saying that it was “completely false.”
The RedState article included intimate photos of Hill, the publication of which she called a crime. The Daily Mail also posted lewd photos of Hill and reported that she has a Nazi-inspired tattoo on her body.
She threatened to sue the Mail over the images, and her lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that “you remove these photos from publication at once.” The lawsuit suggested that the Mail had defamed her by stating that she has the tattoo, which Hill has denied.
She reported the photos to the U.S. Capitol Police on Tuesday and in her statement on Sunday said she is pursuing “all of our available legal options.”
Hill, who is in divorce proceedings with her husband of nine years, Kenneth Heslep, claimed that he was behind the accusations and that he “seems determined to try to humiliate me.”
“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” Hill said in her Sunday statement.
In a letter to her constituents Wednesday, Hill again denied having a relationship with Kelly but admitted that she was involved in a separate relationship with a member of her campaign staff “during the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage.” She apologized for the relationship and said she allowed it to happen against her better judgment.
The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the accusations Wednesday and said if found to be true, they would be a “violation” of House rules. As part of sexual harassment reforms passed last year, the House voted to prohibit relationships between members and their employees.
“The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Katie Hill may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff,” the committee said. “The committee… has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”
Hill won her seat representing northern Los Angeles County just last year and held a senior position on the House Oversight Committee involved with the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.
In her statement, Hill said that she is now going to use this opportunity to fight “this type of exploitation that so many women are victims to and which will keep countless women and girls from running for office or entering the public light.”
“Thank you for allowing me to turn my focus to this particular battle right now, and know that I stand with you as we continue to fight for the many important issues that brought me to Congress in the first place,” she said.