The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday it has launched an investigation into allegations that freshman Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) violated chamber rules by engaging in a sexual relationship with a staffer in her office.
“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),” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Kenny Marchant (Texas), the top Republican on the panel, said in a statement.
“The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me. I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain,” she said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday.
“This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” she added. “I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid.”
Hill’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday after the Ethics Committee’s announcement.
Hill was allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with a staff member, according to an article published last week in the conservative RedState, citing text messages involving Hill’s husband, Kenny Heslep.
An unidentified friend told Heslep in the text messages about an alleged relationship between Hill and Graham Kelly, her legislative director.
“Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false,” Hill said Tuesday. “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.”
RedState also published a nude photo of Hill, who identifies as bisexual, with an individual the publication described as a female campaign staffer. Hill has since said the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating how the photo was obtained and published by RedState.
“Intimate photos of me and another individual were published by Republican operatives on the internet without my consent,” Hill said.
Hill, who has been considered a rising star in the party, serves as vice chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Updated at 7:23 p.m.