Katie Hill Resigns after Scandal has made her a “Bargaining Chip”

By Theresa Whitfield 

Representative Katie Hill gave her resignation speech on the House Floor on October 31. Her resignation comes in the midst of an ethics investigation concerning an inappropriate relationship between her and one of her staff members. In her speech, Hill held nothing back when she attacked the “double standard” of her political adversaries.

Before resigning, Hill served as the Democrat representative for California’s 25th district. Her campaign’s central focus was on “family, education, jobs and healthcare,” according to The Signal. She first announced her run on International Women’s Day. She believed that as a nation “we have to try to consciously elect more women,” according to CNBC. In Congress, she served on the Committee on Armed Forces; the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; and the Committee on Oversight and Reform, where she was the vice chair.

In a letter posted to Twitter on October 27, Hill announced her resignation. She made this decision after allegations of “inappropriate sexual relationships with staffers in her office and on her congressional campaign,” as was first reported by Politico.

According to Politico, Hill had been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for an inappropriate sexual relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly. According to Red State, a conservative online news outlet, this relationship was revealed by Kenny Heslep, Hill’s husband. In her resignation speech, she continued to deny this claim, however, she did admit to a relationship with a female member of her campaign staff. 

In addition to this, several nude photographs of the freshman lawmaker were published to Red State. Daily Mail, a British tabloid, also published these photos without her consent. Hill blames this scandal on her “abusive husband,” who she is in the middle of divorcing, according to Politico. She made the decision to resign in order to stop any more pictures of her from being posted online. 

Hill began her resignation speech by reading the letter of resignation she posted to her Twitter a few days earlier. She believes this is what is best for “[her] constituents, [her] community, and our country.” She also apologized to everyone who she might have hurt, including any young girls that might have looked up to her. 

After her formal apology, Hill made a sharp turn. She held her adversaries in the GOP responsible for her resignation, and called out their “double standard.”

“I’m leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching,” she said.

Hill also mentioned how she is looking to take legal action.

“Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy,” she said. “It’s also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options.” 

Before resigning, she also mentioned in her speech that she cast her last vote earlier that day. This last vote was to move forward with the impeachment proceedings for President Trump. 

In response to her speech, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi remarked that “Katie Hill’s decision to resign is her decision to resign,” and she was not forced to. She also warned others against the danger of social media, using Hill’s case as an example.

“I do say to my own children, grandchildren — especially grandchildren — you know some of these, I don’t know what you would call them, appearances on, is it social media, can come back to haunt you if they are taken out of context,” Pelosi said. 

Pelosi’s response has faced much backlash. Many believe that Peolsi’s statement about about Hill’s resignation placed too much blame on the lawmaker and her decisions, and not enough on the possible crimes committed against her. 

Junior lawmakers rushed to Hill’s defense, also calling out a double standard. They also fear that the harassment against her will deter more women from running for office. 

This scandal and Pelosi’s response to it have caused a rift between the Democrats, dividing the older class from their younger, more progressive counterparts even more.

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