[guest post by JVW]
I emailed this site’s gracious host and the co-blogger who is actually good at her craft yesterday to see if either of them were interested in covering the weird and frankly squalid story about the sex scandal which has enveloped freshman Representative Katie Hill, a Democrat from the 25th Congressional District which includes parts of the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and Ventura County. My interest in this story is largely due to the fact that Ms. Hill beat the incumbent Republican in the last election, ending a quarter-century of GOP control of that seat. This district is exactly the sort of Congressional district that Republicans will need to win back if they hope to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Right now Ms. Hill finds herself in some hot water. Red State broke the story, and National Review has given it coverage. I am uncomfortable enough with the salaciousness of the allegations that I don’t really want to try to craft a detailed narrative, so I am going to just jot down the basic facts in bullet-point format:
* The 32-year-old Ms. Hill, who characterized herself as being bisexual during last year’s campaign, has been married to a man named Kenny Heslep since 2010.
* During last year’s election campaign, Ms. Hill and Mr. Heslep entered into a throuple (i.e., polyamorous) relationship with a 22-year-old woman who had worked on Ms. Hill’s campaign. This arrangement continued after the successful election.
* Sometime this past spring Ms. Hill broke off the relationship with the campaign worker, who did not work for Ms. Hill’s Congressional office.
* Around the same time as Ms. Hill was ending the throuple arrangement, Mr. Heslep says he was told by several people that Ms. Hill was also having a secret affair with her (male) former campaign finance director, who had become the legislative director in her Congressional office.
* The House of Representatives prohibits its members from having romantic or sexual relationships with Congressional staffers. There also might be a rule against being involved with campaign staff as well; it’s somewhat ambiguous.
* After initially denying the arrangement with the female campaign worker, Ms. Hill has now admitted to it and apologized to her constituents. She continues to deny that she has been involved with her legislative director.
* Mr. Heslep has filed for divorce and released text messages implicating his wife in both affairs. Someone (and it’s not hard to guess who) has also leaked pictures of Ms. Hill and the campaign worker to the media, including some which are, to put it delicately, intimate. The photos did, however, force Ms. Hill to acknowledge her involvement with the campaign worker.
* Ms. Hill characterizes her marriage to Mr. Heslep as “abusive” (presumably on his part) and has asked the police to investigate the leak of the intimate photos.
* The House Ethics Committee has launched a formal investigation into Ms. Hill’s involvement with the two employees.
So there you have it. Did Katie Hill run last year on a strong MeToo platform, inveighing against sexual relationships where powerful and connected bosses take advantage of younger, inexperienced employees? You betcha.
My interest in this is entirely political. Does the party leadership determine that Ms. Hill is now too compromised to be an effective candidate for the seat next year (in a year where Democrats performed strongly in California, she won her seat by a little over 21,00 votes, a 54% – 45% margin)? In this red-turned-purple district, are alternative lifestyles so widely accepted these days that polyamory is now given a pass? Is a young white freshman bisexual woman in a swing district an accurate harbinger of California’s future, or is her personal life still a bit too out there for a most voters? Is the person who leaked the intimate pictures a criminal who invaded the personal privacy of two women or a whistleblower who has brought to light potential wrongdoing, at the very least demonstrating the moral ambiguity of sexual relationships in the workplace despite what the MeToo crowd has been preaching?
Exit question: Is Katie Hill a United States Representative come January 2021?