Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California, the target of a House Ethics Committee investigation for an alleged improper relationship with Graham Kelly, her legislative director, announced Sunday that she is resigning.
Such relationships are banned under ethics rules. Hill, who is openly bisexual, has also admitted to an affair with a former campaign aide who has been identified as 24-year-old Morgan Desjardins, according to the Washington Examiner.
Provocative images of Hill were also published online, including some in the Daily Mail, which defied a cease-and-desist order from Hill’s attorneys to take down the images. The images included one in which Hill was combing the hair of Desjardins while nude. Other images purported to show Hill with a bong.
“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” Hill wrote Sunday in a statement released on Twitter. “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents and our country.”
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.
See my official statement below. pic.twitter.com/nG97RQIwvO
— Rep. Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill) October 27, 2019
Hill blamed the release of her nude pictures on the husband from whom she is seeking a divorce and adversarial political players.
“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.
Hill has portrayed herself as a victim of revenge porn.
“Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. It’s also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options,” she said in her statement.
She said that only her departure from Congress can end the chain of events the photos started.
“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,” she said. “I can no longer allow my community, family, friends, staff, supporters, and especially the children who look up to me as a role model, suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty.”
“For the mistake made along the way and the people who have been hurt, I am so sorry.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Hill’s exit was the right move.
Hill’s “errors in judgment” made it “untenable” for her to remain in office, Pelosi said.
“We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in the Congress, and in all workplaces.”
Speaker Pelosi issues statement on resignation of Rep. Katie Hill: “She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a Member untenable.” https://t.co/yHEKq2NL82 pic.twitter.com/3bBWfCpBZf
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 28, 2019
Although Hill’s private life has been the subject of most of the attention she has drawn, the relationship with a staff member also involved campaign funds.
Federal Election Commission data shows that since April, Desjardins has raked in about $14,000 from Hill’s campaign for consulting services, 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.
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