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Katie Hill, California congresswoman, resigns amid allegations of affairs with staff

Representative Katie Hill resigns
Representative Katie Hill resigns amid allegations of affairs with staff 00:45

Representative Katie Hill of California announced Sunday that she is resigning from Congress amid allegations of sexual relationships with a member of her congressional staff and a campaign staffer. "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community and our country," she said in a statement on Twitter.  

Hill said her resignation is "what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation."

In a letter to her constitutes earlier this week, Hill admitted the relationship with the campaign staffer. "I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment," she wrote. She said the relationship had occurred during the last years of what she said was an "abusive" marriage.

Hill, 32, is in the midst of a contentious divorce and last week admitted to an extramarital relationship with a former campaign aide after a Republican blog published details of the relationship, intimate photos and other details of her ongoing split.

In her resignation letter, Hill called the publishing of the photos "an invasion of privacy" and "illegal."

"I know that as long as I am in Congress, we'll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt," Hill wrote. "That's a feeling I know all too well. It's the feeling I decided to leave when I left my marriage, and one I will not tolerate being forced upon others. I can no longer allow my community, family, friends, staff, supporters, and especially the children who look up to me as a role model to suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty."

In a video released on Monday, Hill vowed to "take up a new fight" against revenge porn "to ensure that no one else has to live through what I just experienced."

Announcement by Katie Hill on YouTube

Politico first reported Hill's impending resignation.  

The House Ethics Committee announced last Thursday that it was "aware of public allegations that Representative Katie Hill may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff" and is investigating the allegations. 

Hill said the images were published by "Republican operatives" without her consent and that Capitol Hill police are investigating. She also acknowledges that she is going through a divorce, and said her husband was abusive and "seems determined to try to humiliate me."

Katie Hill
Representative Katie Hill seen April 9, 2019. Getty

A relationship with someone from her official office would have been especially problematic because it would violate sexual harassment reforms Congress passed in 2018.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged Hill's "powerful commitment to her community and a bright vision for the future." But Pelosi added Hill had made "some errors in judgment that made her continued service as a Member untenable. We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in the Congress, and in all workplaces."   

Hill won her seat in 2018, helping Democrats scoop up a record number of previously Republican-held seats in California. She held a senior position on the House Oversight Committee involved in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The 25th Congressional District, which encompasses northern Los Angeles County and Simi Valley, home of the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum, was until last year represented by Republican Steve Knight and is a corner of Southern California that has favored Republicans in the past. But Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The date of a special election would have to be set by California Governor Gavin Newsom. As of Sunday night, there was no word on when it might occur, but the state is already set to hold its presidential primary on March 3, a date that would fall within the timeframe to hold a special election, according to state law. 

Among the Democrats considering a race to succeed Hill is Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state responsible for elections laws and related matters. Two people in touch with Padilla or his aides said Sunday night that he is mulling a bid for the seat.

Padilla, 46, is a former president of the Los Angeles City Council and state senator who's served in his current role since 2015. He's a resident of the district and long has been seen as a future potential candidate for the U.S. Senate, in part because he's amassed a sizable statewide campaign war chest. But he would have to start from scratch in order to run a federal campaign. 

California Secretary of State spokesman Sam Mahood told CBS News broadcast associate Aaron Navarro their office will confer on special election details after they receive Hill's official resignation, and Newsom will be the one to set the timeline. General special election rules call for an election to be held on a Tuesday at least 126 days, but not more than 140 days, following the governor's proclamation of an election.

Aaron Navarro contributed reporting. 

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