Ethics Committee Opens Probe Into Rep. Katie Hill Over Alleged Affair With Congressional Staffer

October 24, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly having an affair with a congressional staffer, which would be a violation of the House Code of Ethics.

“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),” Chairman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ranking Member Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) said in a joint statement late Oct. 23.

According to the House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct: “A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves. This paragraph does not apply with respect to any relationship between two people who are married to each other.”

In a letter to family, friends, supporters, and constituents later Wednesday, Hill said the allegations that she had an affair with a congressional staffer were false and accused her estranged husband of trying to humiliate her.

“I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain. This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” she wrote, adding that she’s cooperating with the Ethics Committee.

She also admitted having an affair with a younger campaign aide despite knowing it was wrong.

“During the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage, I became involved in a relationship with someone on my campaign. I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment. For that I apologize,” she wrote.

According to a Nov. 2018 Ethics Committee report into another member of Congress, Congress members can also get in trouble for things that happen during the campaigns. “The Committee has repeatedly noted it has jurisdiction over ‘misconduct relating to a successful campaign for election to the House,” the report stated.

Three photographs of Hill, 32, and a woman in her 20s were published last week by Red State, including a photograph showing Hill naked and brushing the staffer’s hair. Hill was in a long-term sexual relationship with her husband, Kenny Heslep, and the female campaign staffer, who was hired by Hill in 2017, through May 2017, according to texts obtained by Red State.

Hill started in Congress in January.

Other texts showed Heslep learning of an affair Hill had with a campaign worker who is now a congressional staffer, Graham Kelly. Heslep said he filed for divorce after learning about the affair.

Along with denying the affair with Kelly, Hill said whoever distributed the intimate photographs of her should be punished and that she had notified the police.

“I have notified Capitol Hill police who are investigating the situation and potential legal violations of those who posted and distributed the photos, and therefore will have no further comment on the digital materials,” she said.

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) arrives at Congress on Jan. 3, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The relationship between Hill and the younger female staffer was “abusive,” Heslep wrote in a text to the staffer published by Red State.

“I’m sorry. It has been weighing very, very heavily on me lately. Part of my mind keeps trying to justify it because of katies [sic] abuse,” Heslep wrote in one message.

“It was a dark time and you treated me really poorly but I also stayed which I have to own,” the staffer responded.

“Don’t take full responsibility for staying with people that are abusing you. That is basically victim blaming, and none of it was your fault. I’m sorry for how bad it got,” Heslep responded.

“Think of how toxic our relationship was? And I was still ready to put together something real. To build a future on that absolutely abysmal foundation,” the staffer said.

In another text, which the website said was from the staffer to Hill, the staffer wrote that she was “terrified of pushing back against you or upsetting you.”

“I have seen how you treat Kenny and I think that if I cause any issues, even if I am worried about how you are acting, that very quickly you will decide you don’t want me in your life,” the staffer apparently wrote. “I hope I am wrong but that’s not really a good way for a partnership to be.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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