Democrat Katie Hill Says She'll Quit Congress in Sex Scandal

Derek Wallbank

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Representative Katie Hill, who’s apologized for an “inappropriate” sexual relationship with a female campaign staffer, announced her resignation from Congress, saying in a statement she was departing with a “broken heart.”

The conservative blog RedState and some news websites, including the Daily Mail, had posted explicit photos of Hill online that were released without her consent. Some of the photos showed Hill with the campaign staff member.

Her decision also came after the House Ethics Committee last week opened an investigation of the Democratic freshman from California amid separate allegations she had an improper relationship with a congressional staffer. Hill had denied that accusation.

“For the mistakes made along the way and the people who have been hurt, I am so sorry, and I am learning -- I am not a perfect person and never pretended to be, ” Hill, 32, said in a letter announcing her resignation posted Sunday on Twitter.

‘Revenge Porn’

Hill said private photos of personal moments were “weaponized” against her amid an ongoing divorce, adding that as long as she’s in Congress, “we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt.”

She said the posting of her private photos was illegal and that she’s pursuing legal options. California has one of the strongest “revenge porn” laws in the U.S. against posting explicit photos of individuals without their consent.

Hill, the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress from California, was seen as a rising star among House Democrats.

Despite her freshman status, she was named to be a member of the House Oversight Committee, one of the panels investigating President Donald Trump’s conduct in office and leading the impeachment process. She also assumed a leadership role in the freshman class of House Democrats and joined the whip team, which is responsible for counting votes.

Continuing ‘Untenable’

“Katie Hill came to Congress with a powerful commitment to her community and a bright vision for the future, and has made a great contribution as a leader of the Freshman Class,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a Member untenable.” Her departure will open up a swing district in the U.S. House that Democrats will have to defend. Republicans had held her Southern California seat -- which includes part of Los Angeles County and part of eastern Ventura County -- for 15 years before she won it in 2018, ousting Republican Representative Steve Knight.

Hill swept into Congress as part of the wave that flipped the House majority to the Democratic Party. Democrats gained a net total of 41 House seats in the 2018 midterm election.

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia, said on Twitter that in a special election to replace Hill the California 25th district would be considered “Leans Democratic” to start, against an earlier “Likely Democratic.”

(Updates with Pelosi comment in ninth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Billy House.

To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Wallbank in Singapore at dwallbank@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chua Baizhen at bchua14@bloomberg.net, Mark Niquette, Ros Krasny

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