Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse was outraged that Rep. Katie Hill was the first member of Congress sunk under new ethics rules.
Hill’s office was rocked by a series of leaked nude photographs that confirmed the congresswoman had an affair with a female campaign staffer. Hill admitted to having the affair but denied another reported affair between herself and her legislative director, Graham Kelly.
An affair between Kelly and Hill would be in violation of House ethics rules — which were bolstered in recent years in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Last week, the House Ethics Committee announced a formal investigation into the allegations against Hill, making her the first member to face the heightened protocols.
Hill resigned on Sunday before the investigation concluded, to Hesse’s outrage. In her Tuesday column, Hesse claimed Hill’s resignation was “sad and tragic” and argued that the congresswoman was paying for the sins of her male counterparts.
“It’s about a lot more than one woman correctly paying for her indiscretions,” wrote Hesse. “It’s about one woman paying for everyone’s indiscretions — including those that aren’t truly actionable, just messy.”
Hesse claimed that nude photographs became the cornerstone of the conversation around Hill, rather than the ethical concerns of having an affair with a subordinate. Throughout the column, Hesse hammered away at her point that Hill’s actions somehow differ because she’s a bisexual woman.
“This is where I’m supposed to say that California congresswoman Katie Hill was right to step down, women can be predators too, etc. etc., but still, the situation was sad and tragic, blah blah, #MeToo, #MeToo,” Hesse wrote at the beginning of her column.
In a later portion, she wrote, “And after decades of male politicians getting away with it, it’s a major eyeroll that one of the first to be punished is an openly bisexual millennial woman.”
Hesse defended her point by noting that Trump’s campaign paid adult film star Stormy Daniels to remain quiet about an affair and that California Rep. Duncan Hunter has been indicted for using campaign funds to foot the bill for an affair, but both are still in office.
“Katie Hill was pushed out for all the wrong reasons,” Hesse wrote.
Hesse did not include references to Congress members who have left office following similar situations, such as the fact that nude photographs ended the political career of former Texas Rep. Joe Barton.
Since announcing her resignation, Hill has vowed to fight the situation and claimed it “isn’t over.”