The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into freshman congresswoman Katie Hill over allegations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.
The California Democrat admitted to having a relationship with someone on her campaign in a statement Wednesday but denied having an affair with a member of her staff after her election.
“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill said. “For that I apologize.”
But Hill defended herself against what she called “gossip, innuendo and lies,” saying the allegations are linked to her estranged husband.
“I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” Hill said in the statement.
"I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view, even the false allegations of a relationship with my congressional staffer, which I have publicly denied, and I am fully and proactively cooperating with the Ethics Committee," she said.
The congresswoman, who identifies as bisexual, was elected to the House of Representatives in last year's midterms. In recent days, unconfirmed allegations regarding Hill's personal life were posted to the conservative blog Red State.
The blog also posted images of Hill on the site without her consent, including one labeled as “explicit.”
Hill said she notified U.S. Capitol Police regarding "intimate photos" and said the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law.
"I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain," she said. "This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed."
The House Ethic Committee noted in its release Wednesday that an investigation into the claims does not indicate that Hill violated House rules.
“I am beyond grateful for the work the Ethics Committee does to ensure transparency in Congress. I welcome this investigation and will be cooperating fully to clear this matter up,” Hill said in a statement later Wednesday.