Rep. Katie Hill (CA-25) resigned Sunday night as the House Ethics Committee investigates charges she engaged in a romantic relationship with a campaign staffer. Hill denied any romantic relationship with a Congressional staffer which is against House rules, but the weight of the high financial cost of defending herself while going through a difficult divorce likely factored into the decision.
Should she have quit? The LA Times editorial desk says no.
From this morning’s editorial:
The Antelope Valley freshman Democrat has been charged with no crime, is going through what appears to be a miserable divorce, has always been frank about her bisexuality, had a relationship with a member of her campaign staff, but has denied an accusation that she had an affair with a male congressional staffer when she got to Washington, D.C., earlier this year. She is now the subject of a House ethics probe.
Should we have expected more from her? Yes, and I will get to that in a moment.
But she has done nothing — that we know of at least — that should have led her to step down.
If indeed she had a sexual relationship with a staffer in her congressional office, that should have earned a slap on the wrist for the 32-year-old Democrat. To show how seriously Congress takes that sort of thing, it wasn’t even until last year that the House changed its rules to prohibit relationships between members and their employees. For decades, male lawmakers got away with those sort of shenanigans. Wouldn’t you know it, the first one to fall afoul of the rule is a woman, and a bisexual woman, at that.
I think Hill, to her credit, is taking one for the party.
Unlike Republicans, who can pay off porn stars, proudly boast of sexual assault and still maintain their standing with voters.
Take, for example, the craven Republican U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, who has been charged with stealing campaign funds, some of which he allegedly used on trips with his family, others of which he allegedly used on trips with his lovers. He not only didn’t resign, he dug in. And his constituents in eastern San Diego County reelected him in 2018 while he was under this shadow!
The Washington Post weighed in on the power of “Revenege Porn” in this story:
But the allegations came to light only after a conservative news site and a British tabloid published nude images of Hill without her consent — circumstances that have led many critics to note that Hill is accused of sexual impropriety and is a victim of sexual exploitation.
Hill has acknowledged both aspects of her case, previously saying she knew “even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate,” while vowing Sunday to mount a legal fight regarding the leak of intimate photos. She has accused her “abusive husband,” with whom she is undergoing a contentious divorce, of engaging in a “smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” saying he enlisted “hateful political operatives” to help. The nude photos were published by the conservative site RedState.org and the Daily Mail.
“Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy,” she said Sunday. “It’s also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options.”
In the closing of her resignation letter, Hill thanked her supporters for “allowing me to turn my focus to this particular battle right now,” referring to the release of the nude photos.
“Now, my fight is going to be to defeat this type of exploitation that so many women are victims to and which will keep countless women and girls from running for office or entering public light,” she wrote.
If you’re a glass half full person here, Hill’s resignation shines a new light on Rep. Duncan Hunter in San Diego for his misdeeds. Remember, Hunter’s wife has already cut a deal with prosecutors.
More from the WaPo:
Other critics noted that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) was accused by federal prosecutors in June of using taxpayer money to fund extramarital affairs with congressional staff members and lobbyists. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation of Hunter’s conduct in September 2018, after he was originally indicted on charges of wire fraud and misuse of campaign money. But despite pressure from some lawmakers to resign, Hunter has remained in Congress. He has denied wrongdoing, and as The Washington Post reported previously, the ethics panel has deferred taking action as federal prosecutors conclude their own inquiry.