The congresswoman said she let the relationship happen "against my better judgement," and apologized to her constituents

By Claudia Harmata
October 24, 2019 02:11 PM
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Former Rep. Katie Hill speaking in July 2019.
| Credit: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Democratic Rep. Katie Hill has admitted to having an “inappropriate” relationship with a campaign staffer, according to multiple reports.

On Wednesday night, the California congresswoman reportedly sent a letter to her constituents, admitting that she had engaged in an improper relationship with a campaign aide before entering Congress, according to CNN.

Her confession came just hours after the House Ethics Committee announced it was opening an investigation into Hill over allegations that she was separately romantically involved with one of her congressional staffers, which she denies.

“During the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage, I became involved in a relationship with someone on my campaign,” Hill wrote. “I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen against my better judgement. For that I apologize.”

A spokesperson for Hill did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Last week, the conservative website RedState, published an article detailing Hill’s relationship with the female campaign worker — alleging that the relationship was polyamorous between Hill, who identifies as bisexual, the unidentified woman and Hill’s estranged husband, Kenny Heslep.

The site also included a nude photo of the representative. In her letter, Hill said she notified U.S. Capitol Police and that they launched an investigation into the source of the image.

“The truth is, distributing intimate photos with the intent to publish them is a crime, and the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law,” she wrote. “I have notified Capitol Police, who are investigating it, and therefore will have no further comment on the matter.”

Rep. Katie Hill
| Credit: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

“This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” Hill, who flipped a GOP-held district last year, added.

Hill went on to reiterate her prior statements from Tuesday, denying the allegations that she had also engaged in a sexual relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly — which would be a violation of House rules, and which the Ethics Committee is now investigating.

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“I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into a public view, even the false allegations of a relationship with my congressional staffer,” she wrote, adding, “which I have publicly denied, and I am fully and proactively cooperating with the Ethics Committee.”

Kelly told PEOPLE he had no comment on the allegations or investigation at this time.

Hill ended her letter by calling the allegations a “smear campaign,” thanking her constituents for their support, adding that, “out of respect for the law enforcement and the Ethics Committee, I will not have more to say on this subject until their work is concluded.”