On the Hill

Representative Katie Hill Resigns After Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Freshman Representative Katie Hill resigned from Congress Sunday after facing allegations of improper sexual relationships with staffers in her office and on her Congressional campaign.

“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress. 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,” Hill wrote in a letter and tweeted Sunday evening.

Hill’s announcement followed a tumultuous 10-day episode that has rocked the Democratic Caucus. Hill has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships, one with a congressional staffer, a claim she denies, and another with a former campaign staffer. Hill admitted to and apologized for an “inappropriate” relationship with a campaign staffer earlier this week.

“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill wrote in a letter to her constituents.

Though she takes responsibility for her mistakes, Hill has blamed the ongoing scandal — which was inflamed by several nude photos of the lawmaker published by conservative online news outlets — on her “abusive husband” whom she is in the process of divorcing.

“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 added in her resignation letter.

“Revenge porn” involving Hill’s estranged spouse made her a sympathetic figure to some of her colleagues. Hill asked the U.S. Capitol Police to investigate the source of the photos, and attorneys for Hill even issued a cease-and-desist letter earlier this week to a British tabloid after the outlet published several intimate photos of Hill.

Sources with knowledge of Hill’s resignation said her decision to step down was prompted, in part, by hopes of stopping the flow of embarrassing and disparaging reports that have appeared in multiple outlets, starting with conservative site RedState.org on Oct. 18.

The media outlet accused Hill of having a sexual relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, which the website claimed was revealed by Hill’s husband, Kenny Heslep. Hill vehemently denied the relationship with Kelly, who also worked on her congressional campaign.

Hill said the publication of personal and intimate photos was an “appalling invasion of my privacy.”

“It is also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options,” she added in her resignation letter. “However, I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt.”

Hill did not specify a resignation date in her letter, but she could step aside as early as November 1st.

Hill, 32, was a rising star in the 2018 freshman class, with positions in both House Democratic leadership and as vice chair of the House Oversight Committee. Hill was one of the “majority makers,” flipping a GOP-held seat that contributed to House Democrats’ historic win last year.

Sources: Politico 10/29/19; CNN 10/29/19

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