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Bisexual Congresswoman Kate Hill Resigns Amidst Revenge Porn Pics

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Katie Hill, one of the first openly bisexual women to serve in Congress, has resigned amidst revenge-porn allegations and accusations of an affair.

In a statement released this weekend, Hill admitted to having a relationship with a campaign staffer, and said that she would resign so that her supporters and loved ones would not have to “suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty.” Hill is married but is estranged from what she called her “abusive” husband.

The conservative blog Redstate was the first to report on Hill’s affair. The site also alleged that she had a separate relationship with a congressional staffer, which the Congresswoman has denied. The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation over the accusations. While a relationship with a congressional aide would be a clear ethics rule violation, it’s less clear whether the same rules would cover campaign staff.

Redstate also published a nude photo of Hill, and claimed to have more.

Hill has threatened legal action over the release of the photo. Nonconsensual pornography is illegal in Washington D.C., as well as in 46 states. California Democrats Jackie Speier and Kamala Harris have introduced legislation to make the dissemination of explicit images without consent a federal crime.

Hill acknowledged that the relationship with the campaign staffer was a mistake, though it occurred before her time in Congress. 

“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill wrote in a statement. “For that I apologize.” She went on to blame her husband, Kenney Heslep, from whom she is pursuing a divorce, for the release of personal information. She has called the release of the photo a “smear campaign built around cyber exploitation” conducted by a “monster” with the help of “hateful political operatives.”

Hill had served on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, taking a lead role in the investigation of Donald Trump’s finances. She was also a key backer of the Equality Act. Prior to serving in Congress, she led the non-profit People Assisting the Homeless.

Hill won her seat in last year’s election, flipping a California district from red to blue when she defeated Republican Mike Garcia. It’s unclear who will replace Hill, though political observers expect the district will continue to lean Democratic, as it favored Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Some have questioned whether the pressure to resign was amplified due to Hill’s bisexuality and allegations that the campaign staffer was a woman. Other lawmakers have faced similar recent scandals and remained in Congress. 

Duncan Hunter, for example, was accused this year of using taxpayer money to support an extramarital affair. While that investigation is pending, Hunter has remained in Congress.

But Joe Barton, a congressman from Texas, decided he would not seek re-election in 2018 after news leaked of multiple extramarital affairs with women. Nude photos of Barton were also circulated.

Congressional rules prohibiting relationships with subordinates are fairly new, passed in early 2018 in response to the growing #MeToo movement. At the time, numerous lawmakers had been accused or resigned over allegations relationship with staffers and inherent power imbalances.

RELATED | How the 5 Out Congresswomen Made Their Way to Capitol Hill

 

 

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