California Congresswoman Katie Hill Admits to Inappropriate Relationship with Campaign Staffer

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

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 Committee on Ethics announced it was opening an investigation into Hill over allegations that she was romantically involved with a congressional staffer.

“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 staffer — 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 have 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.”

“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 engaged in a sexual relationship with her congressional staffer, Graham Kelly — which would be a violation of House chamber rules, and which the House Committee on Ethics is now investigating.

“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.”

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