Embattled Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California has been paying funds from her campaign account to a woman who has been identified as Hill’s former lover.
Hill is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation regarding allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with Graham Kelly, her legislative director. Such relationships are banned under ethics rules.
“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” ethics rules, the panel said, according to The Washington Post. “The committee … has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”
Hill has firmly denied any affair with Kelly took place.
“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,” Hill said in a statement.
However, the questions surrounding Hill grew more complex after Hill, who is openly bisexual, admitted to an affair with a former campaign aide who has been identified as Morgan Desjardins, 24, according to the Washington Examiner.
Hill told constituents that her relationship with Desjardins came “during the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage.” She and Kenneth Heslep filed for divorce this summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill’s letter read.
Although Hill has said in a letter to her constituents that her affair took place before she was elected, 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.
In the meantime, photos of Hill have been posted on multiple websites. The website RedState began the barrage of private photos with images of Hill kissing another woman in a story that claimed the woman was involved in a relationship with both Hill and Hill’s former husband.
One of the images shows Hill nude while combing Desjardins’ hair. Another shows her with what the Daily Mail referred to as a bong. Hill, in turn, is demanding action against sites that have published the images, according to Fox News.
Lawyers Marc Elias and Rachel Jacobs, who work for the firm Perkins Coie, demanded the Daily Mail take down the images of Hill that it posted.
“This letter serves as notice that civil and criminal laws prohibit the publication of images of the character you have posted, and that our client is prepared to take all necessary means to protect her rights and to protect herself from an unprecedented, unwarranted and extraordinary offensive invasion of personal privacy,” the lawyers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by multiple publications.
Hill’s attorneys focused on a claim in the Daily Mail that Hill had an inappropriate tattoo.
“The claim that Representative Hill has Nazi imagery on her body in the form of a tattoo is false and defamatory,” the lawyers wrote. “We demand that you immediately cease and desist the publication of these abusive and spurious images. The continued publication by your outlet or others of these images will warrant legal response.”
Hill called the release of texts and letters that have been published online an attempt to humiliate that has crossed the lime to become a crime.
“The truth is, distributing intimate photos with the intent to publish them is a crime, and the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law,” Hill said.
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