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Democratic Rep. Katie Hill denies relationship with congressional staffer

Bridget Bowman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Katie Hill on Tuesday denied allegations she had an improper relationship with the man who is her legislative director. The California Democrat said in a statement her estranged husband is attempting to humiliate her and suggested there is a "coordinated effort" to destroy her.

On Friday, RedState, a self-described conservative blog, published an article detailing Hill's alleged relationships with 2018 campaign staffers. The first allegation involved a female campaign staffer who entered into a relationship with Hill and her husband. The second allegation is that Hill also had an extramarital affair with Graham Kelly, who worked for Hill's campaign and is now Hill's legislative director. A relationship with a current congressional staffer would be a violation of House rules.

"Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false," Hill said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. "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."

Hill's denial was first reported by Politico.

Hill blamed her husband for the report. Attempts to reach him through his attorney were not immediately successful.

"The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me," she said.

 

Los Angeles Superior Court records show that Hill's husband, Kenneth Heslep, filed for divorce in July. Heslep's attorney, William Strachan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Members of Congress are barred from having a sexual relationship with their own staffers. House rules state that "a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves." The rule does not apply to two people who are married.

A potential violation of the code of conduct could trigger an Ethics Committee investigation and recommendation for punishment. Past violations of House rules have involved different punishments, ranging from expulsion and censure to a less severe reprimand.

Hill's statement did not address the allegation that she and her husband were in a relationship with a female campaign staffer. Hill, who is openly bisexual, did reference explicit photos that RedState published in its article, saying she has notified Capitol Police.

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