SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA/AP) — Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill made her final speech in the House chambers Thursday following a vote to press forward with an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Hill announced her resignation Sunday immediately following the launch of an ethics probe into allegations she had a relationship with a congressional staff member.
Speaking to her Capitol Hill colleagues Thursday, Hill said the speech would be her last as a member of Congress and repeatedly apologized to those she felt she had wronged.
“To my family, my friends, my staff, my colleagues, my mentors, to everyone who has supported or believed in me, I’m sorry,” said Hill.
She also took the opportunity to take a swipe at what she described as a “right-wing media” which sought only “to drive clicks and expand their audience”.
“I’m leaving now because of a double standard. I’m leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip. I’m leaving because i didn’t want to be peddled by papers and blogs and websites used by shameless operatives for the dirtiest gutter politics that I’ve ever seen,” Hill said.
Hill acknowledged the relationship with the campaign aide after private photos of her with the woman were posted online, first by a conservative website. Hill said the relationship was consensual and blamed her estranged husband for revealing the information. Hill and her husband are in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.
Hill has denied another allegation that she was having an affair with a male congressional adviser, a relationship that would have run afoul of House rules put in place last year that ban any relationship between lawmakers and staff. Those rules were enacted following a string of misconduct allegations involving male colleagues.
She is divorcing Kenneth Heslep, who in court papers described himself as a house husband being rejected by an ambitious wife. His lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment from the Associated Press.
In her speech Thursday, Hill criticized what she described as a “misogynist culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.”
Hill formerly represented the 25th Congressional District, which includes Santa Clarita Valley, and portions of the northern San Fernando Valley, Antelope Valley, and eastern Ventura County.
George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who was a key figure in the FBI’s Russia probe, and state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, are among at least five candidates running for the U.S. House seat left vacant by Hill.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)