In the aftermath of that resignation, far too many people are defending Ms. Hill.
Look, President Donald Trump is a monster. He cheated on his wives. There have been allegations of rape and other sexual improprieties made against him. He and many others in his social circle spent a little too much time with late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was often surrounded by girls too young to get into a bar (or in many cases, too young to drive a car). And let’s not forget, Trump also hired domestic abusers like Rob Porter, and continued to publicly defend them long after their White House employment ended.
Republicans nominated alleged pedophile (or, ephebophile) Roy Moore for a United States Senate seat from Alabama.
Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani are all married to their 3rd wives and have been serial adulterers their entire lives. You know who has NEVER been accused of infidelity? Hillary Clinton. Or Nancy Pelosi.
Let’s take that fight to ridding our national conversation of THOSE men, but let’s not use their behaviors as a defense.
We cannot rail against those powerful men going unpunished and then use the behavior of those men to excuse inexcusable behavior by one of our own.
Prior to becoming a Congresswoman, Ms. Hill worked for an organization that provided services to the homeless. Court papers say she repeatedly used her influence to get her husband, Kenny Halep, jobs in that organization, even pushing to get him rehired after he was terminated because there was unease within the organization that it was inappropriate (and likely, nepotism) for Ms. Hill’s husband to work directly for her.
It is unclear whether Morgan Desjardins was a campaign staffer who came to be involved in a polyamorous relationship with Hill and Heslep, or a someone in a relationship who came to be a staffer (the timeline seems to indicate the latter), but in either case the behavior of having a relationship with a staff member in her employ would represent a significant error in judgment by Ms. Hill. She has, in fact, admitted such.
But this lack of sound judgment is not a new problem for Ms. Hill. As far back as 2010, when Hill and Heslep were first married, they are alleged to have carried-on a months long sexual affair with a tenant to whom they were renting an apartment.
It should also be noted that many of the public pictures (and private ones) are only of Hill and Desjardins, leaving questions of whether (or when) that throuple was pared down to a couple? If indeed the nude photos were an act of “revenge porn,” there should be criminal charges if applicable.
There are text messages from Ms. Hill to her estranged husband where she writes, “I hope you know that my intent was never to leave you high and dry.” Try flipping the scenario. Let’s say an ambitious young man had an attractive and much younger woman as plaything for he and his wife to share. Upon election to Congress, the husband ditches the wife, leaving her struggling mightily with finances and allegedly without even a running vehicle to use for transportation. The plaything, however, remains on the payroll of the young Congressman. Would HE be earning your sympathy right now? At of September 2019 (when she was still on payroll), Desjardins has earned more than $64,000 despite having described herself as Hill’s “weekend toy.”
It is further alleged that after winning election to Congress, Ms. Hill entered into a sexual relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly. This allegation, if accurate, would be a violation of House ethics rules which prohibit such conduct, rules that were passed by the House amid the #MeToo movement to protect employees for predators in positions of power over them.
Katie Hill was the first openly bisexual member elected to Congress. Fair or not, that comes with responsibilites. Barack Obama was the first black President of the United States. Obama is often criticized for being too conservative, for playing it too safe. Maybe so, but he knew his margin for error was razor thin. He knew every eye would be watching, every dirty trickster would be scheming to bring him down, and that the standard set for him would be higher than it had been for George W, Bush or Bill Clinton.
That may not be fair, but it is reality.
The mess with the accusations of an affair with Graham Kelly also put House Democrats in a tight spot. If the House Ethics Committee were to take Hill’s word for it that she had not committed the offenses of which she was accused, would that not open Democrats up to the same criticism they hurled at Republicans, as well as cast females in power in the same negative light as the men who previously abused that role of power?
What if the Committee decided the accusations were credible? Then what? Censure? A public rebuke? Hill would likely have been stripped of her positions on various committees. House Democrats would need to come down hard to avoid looking as weak on the issue of inappropriate sexual behavior as Repubicans, yet coming down too hard would unleash howls from the LGBTQ community and from women’s groups, two key constituencies if the Democrats hope to have a repeat Blue Wave in 2020.
Folks like Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s former ethics lawyer, have come out in defense of Hill.
This is NOT about Katie Hill’s sex life.
This is NOT about Donald Trump and his disgusting behavior.
This IS about a United States Congressperson displaying a years-long pattern of staggeringly poor judgment because of sexual urges and attraction to younger staff members, staff members in subservient positions related to the authority the Congressperson holds, with campaign dollars or potentially tax payer dollars being funneled to either keep the affair going or keep the affair quiet.
If Katie Hill were a man, the #MeToo movement would rightfully eat her alive.
Maybe she can make a comeback? Mark Sanford (R-SC) left the Governor’s mansion in disgrace after being censured for breach of public trust stemming from an affair and improper use of state assets. Sanford would rebound to serve six years in Congress before bein defeated in a 2018 primary. He is currently challenging Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.
But we should not, we MUST not, minimize Hill’s behavior. Her relationship with Desjardins was, by all accounts, consensual, as was Monica Lewinski’s affair with President Bill Clinton. Yet we accept that the power dynamic made the relationship unacceptable whether consensual or not. Directing taxpayer or campaign resources to a family member or to someone with whom one is carrying on an affair is also unacceptable.
I cheered when Katie Hill was elected.
I now mourn her resignation.
She is not the victim here, and I will not make excuses for her conduct.