In the end, even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, could do nothing to protect her. Pelosi issued a statement saying, “Congresswoman Katie Hill came to Congress with a powerful commitment to her community and a bright vision for the future, and has made a great contribution as a leader of the Freshman class.”
“She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a member untenable,” Pelosi wrote. “We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in Congress, and in all workplaces.”
Katie Hills resignation today was a striking contrast with her statement earlier this week which indicated she was going to stick around and fight the charges against her. In a letter sent to constituents on Wednesday, Hill acknowledged that in the final years of what she called an “abusive marriage,” she began a relationship with the unnamed campaign staffer.
“I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” Hill said in her statement last week. “I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain. This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed. I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid.”
She denied having an affair with a congressional staffer. This is the charge that started a House Ethics Committee investigation. Apparently, Hill's determination to stick around got weaker as more damning evidence appears which demonstrated her "errors in judgment." For example, media reported a series of purported late-night texts in which her estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, called into question Hill’s drinking. Other texts showed the female staffer involved in the “throuple” expressing concerns about Hill's drinking. On top of all of this, the texts revealed Hill was drinking on top of her existing psych meds. (I'm guessing she has been diagnosed with a bad case of bipolar disorder.) The situation was so bad that Hill had been missing her flights back to Washington.
I think Hill's bizarre behavior and what looks to me like a co-occuring mental health challenge inadvertently illustrated the statistical evidence which shows bisexuals to have a higher incidence of mental health problems compared to the rest of us.
According to research reported by the Human Rights Campaign HRC, "Although the LGBTQ community reports high rates of anxiety and mood disorders, recent statistics show that bisexual people are far more likely to experience mental health issues than either lesbians or gay men within the community." Among adults, like Hill, who report they are bisexual, approximately 40 percent have considered or attempted suicide, compared to just over a quarter of gay men and lesbians. HRC’s Health Disparities Among Bisexual People found that “when compared to heterosexual adults, bisexual adults reported double the rate of depression and higher rates of binge drinking.”
In her resignation letter, Katie Hill mentioned her role as a role model for girls. She wrote:
I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it might hurt,” Hill wrote in Sunday’s statement. “That’s a feeling I know all too well. It’s the feeling I decided to leave when I left my marriage, and one I will not tolerate being forced upon others. I can no longer allow my community, family, friends, staff, supporters, and especially the children who look up to me as a role model, to suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty.
Hill did not seem to understand that her status as a role model had been permanently erased much earlier in the week thanks to photos which showed her, naked, smoking a bong, with what appeared to be a Nazi-era tattoo in her bikini area.
“For the mistakes made along the way and the people who have been hurt, I am so sorry, and I am learning – I am not a perfect person and never pretended to be. It’s one of the things that made my race so special,” Hill wrote. “I hope it showed others that they do belong, that their voice does matter, and that they do have a place in this country.”
So, Rep. Katie Hill is leaving us with the suggestion that those with profound cases of mental illness, those who are most likely to show profound "errors in judgment" should nevertheless be allowed to make the rules that control and manipulate the rest of us. I don't think so...
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.