So, in the “this aged well” department, I present to you Democrat Rep. Katie Hill of California.
In 2017, Hill — then a director of a non-profit — tweeted out a list of men who had been accused of sexual impropriety. This was at the height of the #MeToo scandal and shortly after the special Senate election in Alabama, where accusations of rape and sexual misconduct with much younger women played a deciding role in Roy Moore’s loss.
In addition to Moore and President Donald Trump, Hill called out “Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Jeffrey Tambor, Brett Ratner, Al Franken, Ed Westwick, Hamilton Fish, Leon Wieseltier, Terry Richardson, Mark Halperin, Roy Price [and] Kevin Spacey” in the tweet.
“Here’s an idea. How about we put more women in positions of leadership?” she concluded.
Here’s an idea. How about we put more women in positions of leadership?
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) November 20, 2017
The people of California’s 25th Congressional District certainly did just that, electing Hill to Congress over Republican Steve Knight in the 2018 midterms. Knight, it’s worth noting, has never been accused of sexual impropriety of any kind. The same cannot now be said for Hill.
On Wednesday, according to The Hill, it was announced that the California freshman had been referred to the House Ethics Committee after a complaint she had engaged in a sexual relationship with a staffer. This came after RedState had obtained compromising pictures of her with a woman who worked on her campaign and alleged she might have had a separate ongoing affair with her campaign finance director, who is male. Hill is openly bisexual.
“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, in violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 18 (a),” committee Chairman Rep. Ted Deutsch, a Florida Democrat, and ranking Republican Rep. Kenny Marchant of Texas said in a statement.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”
Hill was defiant: “I am beyond grateful for the work the Ethics Committee does to ensure transparency in Congress. I welcome this investigation and will be cooperating fully to clear this matter up,” she said in a statement.
Hill, a rising star within the party, went on to say that the allegations were borne out of a divorce from “an abusive husband” and that “[i]ntimate photos of me and another individual were published by Republican operatives on the internet without my consent.”
In a letter to her constituents, however, she acknowledged a relationship with a female campaign staffer who, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, she was romantically involved with until May of this year. (While she was never a congressional staffer, Federal Election Commission records state that Hill still paid the woman, who was 22 when the relationship began, for “fundraising consulting” as recently as last month.)
— Kevin Corke (@kevincorke) October 24, 2019
Hill strongly denied an allegation she was sleeping with her campaign finance director, Graham Kelly.
“Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false,” she said in a statement.
The Daily Mail’s article is a rather frank and revealing (a touch too uncomfortably revealing, if you ask me, but nothing if not thorough) look at Hill’s relationship with her subordinate, who apparently formed a throuple with Hill and her estranged husband.
A series of text messages from Hill’s lover, originally obtained by RedState, shows exactly why a relationship with a subordinate is frowned upon. The woman, who we’re not going to name, told Hill that the breakup was “crushing.”
“I am not going to be a toy for you on the weekends,” she said in one message.
“I at least thought you enjoyed that time and that it meant a lot to you. It’s really crushing to find out that it doesn’t.”
“I’m still a mess over you f—ers,” she told Hill’s estranged husband.
“I am still in love with her,” another message read. “It rips my heart out every time I have to see her or have someone say something nice about her.”
In one message, Hill acknowledged that her breakup with the campaign staffer was “maybe partially” because of the “political risk.”
“Honestly though, it’s that I want to be alone,” Hill said. “I don’t want to be accountable to anyone else. I want to be entirely focused on this work that I think is so important.”
In addition to the text messages, there were also pictures showing Hill using drugs — assumedly marijuana — and in the shower with the staffer. (The latter picture wasn’t published by either the Daily Mail or RedState, however.)
Here’s the link to the Daily Mail’s report, which we must warn you contains nudity and other graphic material. Viewer discretion is advised.
Both the RedState and Daily Mail contain salacious details about Hill’s personal life and other potential struggles, the vast majority of which are rather irrelevant here. The important part, however, is the fact that she had a sexual relationship with a woman she hired straight out of college while she was in her 30s. There’s been plenty of talk in the #MeToo era about the power dynamics of having a relationship with someone whose paycheck you sign — something that Hill acknowledged was wrong.
“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” she wrote in the letter to her constituents.
“For that I apologize. I wish nothing but the best for her and hope everyone respects her privacy in this difficult time.”
And yet, Hill dragged her into this. Certainly a woman in her 30s knows a lot more about the risks of a relationship like this than a woman just out of college does — and the imbalance of power here is self-evident.
Perhaps, then, it was unsurprising that so many people on social media used her 2017 tweet to point out the hypocrisy:
You made the list!
— Aaron et politica ingenio 🇺🇸🚀 (@peekaso) October 24, 2019
— Ichi Wang (@dogadobo) October 24, 2019
Anyone else just here for the ratio?
— Ryan Secord (@Ryan_Secord) October 24, 2019
“Anything you can do, I can do better . . .”
— CG’s Geometry PitchBot (@cg_geometry) October 24, 2019
I guess we should have seen this as a warning of what leadership meant to you.
Sexual harassment isn’t just about consent; it’s also about power. https://t.co/NawYlzQbR2
— Sharon Hayes (@SharonHayes) October 24, 2019
Hey another first woman milestone! @SpeakerPelosi should get the podium and make some remarks.
— Martini, Extra Dry with a Twist 🍋 (@fledtothesouth) October 24, 2019
The Ethics Committee will determine how truthful and forthcoming Rep. Hill is being and whether or not she violated the House rules. What we do know is that if this wasn’t a violation of the rules, it’s still a profound ethical lapse — and an act of rank hypocrisy.
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