Katie Hill: Congresswoman blames 'smear' campaign amid nude photo leak and affair allegations

The Independent Politics 3 weeks ago

California Congresswoman Katie Hill, one of a group of newly-elected progressive Democrats, has denied allegations that she had a relationship with a member of her staff and is blaming Republican opponents for circulating nude photographs of her and another woman on the internet without her consent.

Text messages and photographs of Ms Hill were published on right-wing website RedState, which alleged she had an affair with her legislative director Graham Kelly as well as a sexual relationship with a female campaign staffer and her husband, whom she is divorcing.

In a statement, Ms Hill said: "Intimate photos of me and another individual were published by Republican operatives on the internet without my consent. 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."

Ms Hill said the allegations of her affair with Mr Kelly are "absolutely false" and part of a "smear" campaign that includes her former husband. The couple began divorce proceedings earlier this year.

"I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view and the vindictive claims of my ex have now involved the lives and reputations of unrelated parties."

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RedState alleges that Ms Hill and her husband were engaged in a consensual relationship with a third person that the website says was a member of Ms Hill's campaign.

Ms Hill said: "I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain."

"Revenge porn" laws in California make the distribution of intimate recorded material without consent a misdemeanour offence punishable up to six months in jail.

Ms Hill, the first openly bisexual member of Congress, entered office in 2019 after unseating longtime Los Angeles Republican Steve Knight in a 2018 election, flipping the only remaining Republican seat in Los Angeles County.

The House's code of conduct doesn't explicitly mention rules for relationships among House members and campaign staff but does not permit members pursuing sexual relationships with their employees.

Ms Hill has denied the allegations of an affair with Mr Kelly to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named the freshman congresswoman a vice chairwoman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, currently participating in the Congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

In a September statement, Ms Hill announced her support to proceed with impeachment proceedings, saying that the "threshold has been crossed by this president and those checks and balances are in jeopardy".

The 32-year-old congresswoman, formerly a director of a nonprofit organisation providing services to homeless people in California, had campaigned on income equality, anti-discrimination efforts and affordable housing. She announced that she survived multiple sexual assaults amid efforts to facilitate frank conversations with young women about consent and legislation.

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Ms Hill said: "I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid."

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