Rising Democratic star politician Katie Hill announced her resignation on Sunday amid an ethics probe, saying explicit private photos of her with a campaign staffer had been “weaponized” by her husband and political operatives.
The California Democrat, 32, had been hand-picked for a coveted leadership seat. But in recent days, compromising photos of Hill and purported text messages from her to a campaign staffer surfaced online in a British tabloid.
“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” she wrote in a statement released Sunday, adding her resignation would be effective on Friday.
“Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. It’s also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options.”
The House ethics committee also had launched an investigation into whether Hill had an inappropriate relationship with an aide in her congressional office, which is prohibited under House rules.
Hill, one of the few openly bisexual women in Congress, has denied that and vowed to fight a “smear” campaign waged by a husband she called abusive.
But on Sunday, she announced she was stepping aside.
“However, I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt.”
Hill’s statement provided no details on that and her office and campaign provided no additional public comment.
Her abrupt fall came after a blazing rise in which she won the last Republican-held House seat anchored in Los Angeles County, part of a rout that saw GOP House members driven out of their seats in Southern California.
Hill was elected by nine percentage points last year, ousting two-term Republican Representative Stephen Knight and capturing the district for her party for the first time since 1990. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried the district in 2016 by 7 points.
Hill’s campaign had raised a healthy $2.2m (€1.9m) so far this year, putting her on track for a strong reelection bid.