California Rep. Katie Hill Resigns Amid Allegations Of Improper Sexual Behavior

Barely in office a year, California Congresswoman Katie Hill has been forced to resign in the face of inappropriate contact with a staff member and a campaign worker.

Congresswoman Katie Hill, who was elected just last year to represent California’s 25th Congressional District, has resigned in the face of allegations of scandal surrounding sexual relationships with a campaign aide and, an aide in her Congressional office, has resigned from Congress:

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) on Sunday announced her resignation from Congress amid an ethics inquiry into allegations that she had an intimate relationship with a congressional staff member in her office.

“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” Hill wrote 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.”

Hill’s spokeswoman said that the resignation is not immediate and that Hill is still deciding on when she will leave office. Her announcement was first reported by Politico, which said that she planned to resign by the end of the week.

Last week, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into allegations that Hill was romantically involved with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, a relationship that would violate House ethics rules.

Hill was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, a 32-year-old lawmaker who flipped a Republican-held seat in a district northeast of Los Angeles.

Her departure came swiftly after allegations surfaced about a week ago in an article on the conservative website RedState.org. The article alleged that Hill and her husband were in a consensual three-person relationship with a woman on her campaign team. The article included text messages it said were between Hill and the woman as well as intimate photos of them together. Hill is openly bisexual.

The article also alleged that Hill was involved romantically with Kelly.

Under House ethics rules adopted last year in response to high-profile sexual harassment claims involving members of Congress, it is against the official code of conduct for members to “engage in a sexual relationship with any employee” who works for the member.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement that Hill “came to Congress with a powerful commitment to her community and a bright vision for the future, and has made a great contribution as a leader of the Freshman Class. She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a Member untenable. We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in the Congress, and in all workplaces.”

Hill has confirmed that she was in a relationship with the female campaign staffer, according to the Los Angeles Times, but has denied that she had a romantic relationship with Kelly.

“Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false,” Hill said in a statement she released Tuesday. “I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view and the vindictive claims of my ex have now involved the lives and reputations of unrelated parties.”

(…)

Hill’s national profile grew quickly during the 2018 midterms as a formidable challenger seeking to unseat the last Republican seat in Los Angeles County. She became a star fundraiser, raising over $8.3 million for her first House campaign, thanks in part to the backing of wealthy female donors in the Los Angeles area.

In her statement Sunday, she said she is pursuing legal options against those who released private photos, saying that “having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy.”

She apologized for “mistakes made along the way and the people who have been hurt.”

Hill has accused Republican operatives and her husband of coordinating a “smear campaign” amid the couple’s pending divorce.

The allegations against Hill were first made public by the London-based tabloid Daily Mail, which also published several compromising photos that could have only come from a source close to Hill showing her in compromising situations with the campaign aide. There was no similar evidence in connection to the allegations regarding the relationship with the Congressional staffer, but the allegation itself was apparently enough for the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation into whether or not Hill had violated the rules against inappropriate conduct toward staffers in the member’s Congressional office. From the Daily Mail, the allegations were picked up Red State and other conservative media outlets, and from there they quickly made their way into the regular media.

The allegations regarding the campaign staffer were apparently not covered by House Ethics Rules, and there’s at least some argument that she was likely a victim of so-called “revenge porn” with respect to the photos relating to that relationship that were published in the Mail and elsewhere. (I won’t link to those photos, but they are unfortunately still accessible via Google.) Leaving that aside, though, once the allegations shifted to allegations related to her brief time in Congress, it was clear that Hill was going to face a bumpy road ahead that could impact a re-election bid in 2020, especially since her district is likely to be a target for the GOP for recovery.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    I support reasonable and proportionate penalties for transmitting revenge porn about someone, such as a sentence of 10 years of being kicked daily in the Jimmy.

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  2. CSK says:

    Someday, maybe, people in the public eye will learn that you can’t sext 15-year-olds, assault your employees, allow yourself to be photographed engaging in nude frolics with staff without consequence.

    Maybe. Someday.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    *That headline*…. In the age of trump…. Don’t tell me misogyny is dead in this society.

    ** I’m not complaining about your headline Doug, just the fact that yesterday I read, All the President’s Women review: Donald Trump, sexual predator and today I’m reading that Katie Hill is resigning for having consensual sex. It is disgusting to me that men are measured by such entirely different yardsticks than women.

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  4. She is resigning because the alleged relationship with a staffer in her Congressional office is a clear violation of House Ethics Rules.

    Also, there have been rumors of additional allegations that could have been coming out in the coming days.

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:
    Given the alleged number of nude selfies and amateur sex tapes that are being produced, revaluations such as this will lose there shock value and become worthless for political attacks. These revaluations are the he/she smoked marijuana accusations of the late 80’s and early 90’s.

    Hill, unfortunately for her, was an early victim, and she added to her potential misery by having an affair with a staffer. Sometime you pay for your bad judgement.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Meanwhile Duncan Hunter is still in office.
    Another case of Democrats doing the proper thing, and Republicans being flaming hypocrites.

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  7. KM says:

    there’s at least some argument that she was likely a victim of so-called “revenge porn” with respect to the photos relating to that relationship

    At least some argument? Where did the pictures come from if not the bitter ex? Nobody’s stating anyone was hacked to the best of my knowledge, which would have been one of the first “wasn’t me!” denials out there. Theoretically, only a handful of people (likely 2, her and him) had access to this pics. She wouldn’t do this to herself so where on earth do you think they came from? The porn fairy??

    Look, if she’s guilty of ethical violations in regards to her position, then she needs to be held accountable. We’re not Republicans, dammit. However, this absolutely REEKS of ‘angry male wanting to punish a female for rejection”. I don’t care how bitter the divorce, how justified the grounds or if he was a complete saint right up until then. This is a HUGE violation of privacy and is done solely with the intent to humiliate and degrade someone you claim to have “loved” in an extremely nasty and gender way. You don’t see women releasing dick pics of exs to get back at them or ruin them professionally. This sort of thing should be right up there with identity theft with a mandatory jail sentence, no option for parole.

    TL:dr The husband got pissy, decided to get his inner MGTOW on and the GOP, full of pervs, abusers and straight up hypocritical cheaters, decided they wanted in on that action. It’s really hard to focus on Hill’s violations through the thick cloud of male asshattery on this on. She wasn’t right in any way but man, were they ever piling on the wrong!

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  8. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    First off, thank you for noticing how disgustingly gendered this whole thing is. It’s disheartening how many guys are just causally glazing over the revenge thing. There’s a reason it’s a favorite tactic of the incel-types of the world: it’s nasty, controlling and strips away a woman to nothing more the body parts. If a doctor took a pic of a naked man for diagnostic purposes but then put it online after payment dispute, there’d be outrage left and right about how “horrible” that behavior is. But because it was done “in a relationship”, revenge porn gets a “meh, shouldn’t have trusted your lover with those pics!”. Another thing guys just don’t understand because it’s not something they need to fear happening to them.

    Second, I need to quibble about the whole consensual sex angle liberals are using to defend her. Yes, she is absolutely being held to a different standard… but the regular standard still says she’s wrong. The rules say no fraternizing with staff, then don’t fraternize with staff even if you have their permission. Just because everyone involved is cool with it and having a good time doesn’t mean it’s an ethically correct thing to do. Is it unfair she’s being judged by men who’ve likely violated worse rules and gotten away with it? Absolutely. Does it absolve or mitigate her actions? No.

    I wish she hadn’t resigned. Take the slap your violation incurred like a woman and keep doing your job. Face the consequences of your actions but still do what you were sent their to do. The halls of Congress are lined with sexual predators and abusers so why shouldn’t she have gotten to stay if she accepted the appropriate discipline?

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  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Yes, what she allegedly did was in violation of House rules (that were passed last year). But Hill is not the only Congresscritter having affairs nor is this practice rare. Hell, Newt Gingrich, moral icon, was banging a house staffer or six years on the sly. I’m somewhat mixed on the idea of banning consensual relationships even though I get the power dynamic argument. But this is the case we start with?

    The reason we found out about this is because her husband decided to wreck his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s career. And the Daily Fail gleefully published his revenge porn. Had they not done that, she would still be going through the investigation. I’m not clear on what punishment they could dole out. But this resignation was clearly driven by the relentless media hounding. And two wrongs don’t make a right.

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  10. Timothy Watson says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Funny you mention Democrats doing the “right thing” while they’re lionizing John Conyers, who threaten to kill a staffer who refused his sexual advances.

    Democrats continue to defend Al Franken when he assaulted multiple women and there’s the serial rapist Justin Fairfax, who is still Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and goes around ranting about how he’s being “lynched”.

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  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    The revenge porn propagated by her husband aside–which, I agree, is disgusting and has no place in our society–I’m reminded of the Funke’s on Arrested Development. If you think the answer to your marriage issues is a ‘throuple’/open marriage arrangement, it’s probably best if you just go ahead and get a divorce.

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  12. Slugger says:

    I like sex kind of like I like sports; I was never any good at it but support people who succeed enthusiastically. I think a little scandal is good; it adds the spice of the forbidden. Sex without scandal is like stew without salt. I was going to say a hot dog without mustard, but that somehow felt inappropriate.
    I do enjoy the posture of the GOP as the guardians of sexual continence. It is very funny. Thank you, Tim Watson, for your remarks. Al Franken is going to be the next vice-president nominee of the Democrats, n’est pas?

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  13. mattbernius says:

    Well stated on all counts @Hal_10000.

    And great reference @Neil Hudelson.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    She is resigning because the alleged relationship with a staffer in her Congressional office is a clear violation of House Ethics Rules.

    Ah, OK. In my defense, I haven’t read anything beyond the headlines and seeing as “The Sex Lives of Congress Critters and Other Social Pariahs” is not high on my reading list, I either hadn’t heard that or it went in one ear and right out the other.

    Still, considering the fact that we have a serial sexual predator in the WH who is about to be impeached for things other than his sexual peccadilloes, which as far as we know all occurred prior to his present elevated status, and which also means he got elected even tho we knew about them (maybe not the details but of their existence? that we knew)…

    I still stand by my yardstick comment.

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  15. JKB says:

    Seemed to me that she was going to power through this until the sudden resignation announcement. The story still had a few click left in it, but mostly it was done. Must be some things to renew it still out there.

    Nancy seems to be the “force” behind the resignation. Perhaps there are photos of Hill frolicking with her throuple or staffer at a Trump resort? Do you think the husband was pushed to divorce by the ethical violation of the congressional staffer affair, or that the staffer was male compared to the campaign worker?

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM:

    I need to quibble about the whole consensual sex angle liberals are using to defend her.

    Been thinking about this point and I want to say that yes it is a good policy to have in place a prohibition on sex between Congress critters and staffers. And between CEO’s and Vice Presidents, and riding bosses and electricians, and Principals and teachers, etc etc ad nauseum. But in the real world people have sex and as often as not (more often?) with people they work with. And that quite often happens to be between people of different hierarchical status. We all know that power is an aphrodisiac par excellence, and that men are dogs, most of whom would fuck a tree stump if it had tits and didn’t say “No.” In other words, humans are sexual beings and to think a policy that makes certain relationships forbidden fruit… Will work?

    Yeah, you get my point.
    A thing being consensual is still very important to say the least

    I too wish she hadn’t resigned, taken one for Team Women so that the next time this happens it won’t be so bad for the woman who finds herself in this position but that is selfish. I can’t fault her for resigning. Only she can know what her life and children need most and I suspect privacy is pretty high on the list just now.

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  17. wr says:

    @Timothy Watson: “Democrats continue to defend Al Franken when he assaulted multiple women ”

    Would that be EX-Senator Franken you’re talking about?

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  18. Timothy Watson says:

    @wr: Funny, not a single democrat, other than Kirsten Gillibrand, thinks Franken should have resigned in retrospect.

    And Gillibrand’s unequivocal call for Franken’s resignation, something she still supports, doomed her presidential run from the start.

    But Democrats believe all women, don’t cha know.

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  19. Guarneri says:

    Katie tells us “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.” Hmmmm. Because of her sexual orientation? Or is it a reference to her husband…………and that’s why the divorce? So many questions………

    I know you guys want to make this R vs D. How about people will be people.

    Nah.

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  20. CSK says:

    Look, if you allow yourself to be photographed–especially with a phone, where the image can be transmitted instantly–in the nude, or disporting sexually even with a willing partner or two, don’t be surprised, or shocked, or upset when the world sees the results. This should be obvious.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:

    people will be people.

    True.
    But Democrats are accountable, Republicans are hypocrites.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    @Timothy Watson: I’m pretty sure that the Junior Senator from Minnesota also thinks Franken should have resigned. And countless others.

    No one asks. No one cares other than a few Franken stans.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    Look, if you allow yourself to be photographed–especially with a phone, where the image can be transmitted instantly–in the nude, or disporting sexually even with a willing partner or two, don’t be surprised, or shocked, or upset when the world sees the results. This should be obvious

    Also, if a woman shows too much ankle in public, she has no one to blame but herself when young men are overtaken by her immodesty and rape her.

    Harlots and trollops, the lot of them.

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  24. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: Oh, come on. This not at all the same thing, and I’m sure you know it. It’s just dumb to consent to any kid of nude photo–particularly in view of the fact that revenge porn is so prevalent now. Life for women presents sufficient difficulties. Why give someone additional ammunition when you’re already vulnerable?

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  25. MarkedMan says:

    Did I miss something here? Wasn’t it just last week that she was publicly saying that no affair took place at all and it was all a vicious smear campaign? Oh wait, it was just 4 days ago. Look, I support the Democrats because they have standards and morals and don’t engage in whataboutism at the Senior Leadership level, as opposed to the Republican leadership which is comprised exclusively of garbage. Katie Hill had an affair with someone that worked for her and then lied about it to her constituents. She should resign. End of story.

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Women should not have to police every moment of their lives — including, and especially, their intimate lives — trying to decide what will and will not be acceptable if her dude turns out to be horrible.

    The ex-husband should be up on charges (California has a revenge porn law, I believe), and any website or newspaper that published the photos should be sued (Hulk Hogan set a precedent).

    And we should all be commenting “what a fucking asshole that guy is” and “how could he be so stupid and horrible?”, rather than “women really should expect this.” (Which is just a variant on “boys will be boys”)

    Women deserve not to be blamed, and we should expect better of men — and most men are better than that.

    ——

    Ahem. I don’t think you’re intending to blame women, but the conventional wisdom you are parroting has that slut-shaming built in.

    Also, look at the phrase “allow yourself to be photographed”, which suggests that a woman just allows it, rather than that a woman might enjoy being photographed because it makes her feel sexy and desired. Because, a good woman doesn’t want that.

    (I’ve never understood slut-shaming. The existence of sluts gives me hope that I’ll occasionally get laid. Why would I want to discourage that?)

    (Also, lesbians make me feel irrelevant)

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  27. Lounsbury says:

    Anglo Saxon prudery.

  28. Katie says:

    @CSK: People do get photographed naked without their consent or even knowledge.@Timothy Watson: “Democrats continue to defend Al Franken when he assaulted multiple women…” Franken was ALLEGED to have assaulted multiple women. Innocent until proven guilty.