Disgraced Former Rep. Hill Admits She Planned To Lie to Media About Dating Staffer
Former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California, who resigned after pictures of her with a campaign staffer with whom she was having a relationship were published in the media, has revealed that her battle plan when the relationship was exposed was to lie.
Hill, who was elected in 2018 but resigned in December, spoke with writer Caitlin Moscatello in an extensive interview published by The Cut.
At the time of her resignation, Hill was the target of a House Ethics Committee investigation regarding an affair with a male staffer, which she has denied. Her resignation ended the investigation before it reached a conclusion.
Hill, 32, who is openly bisexual, did admit to having an affair with campaign aide Morgan Desjardins, who was 24 at the time. Federal Election Commission data showed that between April and September of last year, Desjardins raked in about $14,000 from Hill’s campaign for “fundraising consulting,” which multiple checks for $2,500 per month. Prior to that time, Desjardins was paid at a rate of about $50,000 a year as a staff member for Hill’s campaign, the records show.
The affair became public after the publication of pictures that showed a naked Hill brushing the hair of Desjardins. Other published images of Hill nude showed her holding a bong and sporting an iron cross tattoo near her groin. Another showed her and Desjardins kissing.
“I had to admit that, yes, I had this relationship with a campaign staffer,” Hill said in the new interview. “So, you know, I’ve admitted to that. And once you’ve admitted to that one thing, then it brings everything else into question.”
Hill admitted she was aware that her disclosure of the relationship could be a problem — and said she was initially going to deny any allegations.
“You know, honestly, it was one of those things where it was like, ‘Well, I’ll just deny it,’” Hill said. “Morgan is not accusing me of anything. She doesn’t want it to come out any more than I do.”
Then everything became public, including reports that up to 700 private images of her were being circulated.
“I knew so much was still coming,” she said. “The ethics thing, it was going to pull our office in, and specifically my staff in,” she said.
Hill said Desjardins was hired “as my body person, my person who was literally with me all the time.”
“Part of it was talking. We both identified as bi, right? That was one of the things that drew her to the campaign. And she was also younger than me and hadn’t had as much experience being a bi woman. I ended up revealing that I’d had a [three-person] relationship before,” Hill said.
“I can only account for my feelings, but we fell in love. I don’t think there’s any way for it not to come off as bad,” Hill said. “But whatever. We developed feelings for each other, and even from day one, it was like, ‘No, we shouldn’t do this; this is a bad idea.’ But [we] did anyway, and hoped that it was just not going to come out.”
Hill explained that she was unhappy in her marriage to her now-estranged husband Kenneth Heslep, whom she has accused of circulating the images that led to her disgrace.
The former lawmaker said the power dynamics of her relationship with Desjardins were such that she was not taking advantage of the staffer.
“Morgan was way more my boss than I was hers because she got me to places on time. So yes, I recognize that I had power, but also it just wasn’t like that at the time … I was a f—ing person that was a few years older than her, and we got wrapped up in this movement of trying to do something, and I happened to be the face of it. But to me, she was just as responsible for it, you know?”
Hill said that even though insiders knew about the relationship and counseled her to end it, she would not break it off, calling Desjardins “a vital, vital support … There’s so much about having survived that last year and a half of my marriage and having survived through the campaign that I don’t know what I would have done if she weren’t in the picture.”
During the interview, Hill also noted that the iron cross tattoo had nothing to do with Nazis or white supremacy, but came from a drunken trip to Mexico.
“I was just stupid, drunk, and traumatized,” she said. “There was a self-harm element to it that was, you know, marking this as my space.”
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