Kenny Heslep is the estranged husband of Democratic congresswoman Katie Hill, who represented California’s 25th district.
Heslep and Hill are going through a divorce. Heslep accused Hill of having an affair with her male legislative director. Hill has denied the allegation but does admit to having a relationship with a female aide who worked on her campaign.
Rep. Hill was elected in November 2018 and was the first openly bisexual member of Congress. She was the Vice-Chair of the House Oversight Committee. On October 27, 2019, Hill announced she would be resigning from Congress.
“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country,” Hill wrote in a statement.
“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation. Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy,” Hill wrote. “It is also illegal, and we are currently pursuing all of our available legal options. 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 added, “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.”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Kenny Heslep Filed For Divorce in July of 2019 & Accused Her Of Having an Extramarital Affair With a Male Congressional Staffer
Kenny Heslep filed for divorce from his wife in July of 2019 in Los Angeles County Court. The filing came less than a year after she won her election for Congress.
Rep. Hill has denied allegations that she had an extramarital relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly. The accusation was first published by the conservative outlet RedState.org.
Rep. Hill said in a statement to Politico, “The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me… Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false. I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view and the vindictive claims of my ex have now involved the lives and reputations of unrelated parties.” The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation.
In the divorce proceedings, Heslep asked the judge to grant him spousal support. According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Heslep reported that he had only a couple hundred dollars in his bank account and that he didn’t earn an income from his position at a non-profit called People Assisting The Homeless.
2. Katie Hill Has Admitted to Having an Inappropriate Relationship With a Female Campaign Aide
Rep. Katie Hill has admitted that she had a romantic relationship with a female staffer who worked on her campaign. She wrote in a letter to her constituents, “During the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage, I became involved in a relationship with someone on my campaign. I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen against my better judgement. For that I apologize.”
On October 18, RedState.org published photos that purported to show Hill with the female staffer, whose face was blurred out. The outlet also published text messages that it claimed were sent between Hill and the staffer. The young woman has since been identified as Morgan Desjardins.
Rep. Hill addressed the explicit photos that were published in the RedState story. She said in a statement to Roll Call, “Intimate photos of me and another individual were published by Republican operatives on the internet without my consent. I have notified Capitol Hill police who are investigating the situation and potential legal violations of those who posted and distributed the photos, and therefore will have no further comment on the digital materials.”
According to House rules, members of Congress are prohibited from having romantic relationships with staffers.
3. Katie Hill & Kenny Heslep Got Married in June of 2010 & Hill Was Describing Heslep as the Love Of Her Life Months Before Divorce Proceedings Began
Kenny Heslep and Katie Hill got married on June 12, 2010. It’s unclear when their divorce began to sour. In September of 2018, Rep. Hill was proclaiming her love for him on social media. She wrote on Facebook that her husband was the “toughest backbone anyone could ask for… Kenny, you are my best friend and the love of my life. I am so proud of the life we’ve built together and I can’t wait to see what we do next.”
In June of 2018, one year before Heslep filed for divorce, Hill shared a message to Heslep on her Instagram account. She wrote, “Happy anniversary to the love of my life, my partner, and my best friend. It’s crazy to believe we’ve been in each other’s lives for fourteen years and married for eight. I don’t think either of us could have ever guessed where we would be now, but I know I wouldn’t be here without you. Your love and support get me through the toughest challenges life throws at us, and I am so proud of the life we have built together. Grateful for every single one of our adventures together and can’t wait to see where the next one takes us. I love you, babe!”
4. Kenny Heslep & Katie Hill Did Not Have Children, But Suffered a Miscarriage Before They Got Married
Katie Hill and Kenny Heslep dated for several years before they got married in 2010. When she was 18 and he was 22, they found out they were pregnant after they’d been dating for about one year. Hill says she was on birth control at the time and the news was completely unexpected.
Hill addressed the unplanned pregnancy in an interview with PopSugar in 2017, which she shared to her campaign’s Facebook page. She explained that even though she had always considered herself to be pro-choice, and that as a college freshman she was not ready to be a mother, she felt torn with what to do. Hill said that she and Kenny were sitting at a McDonald’s one day, and he said that the decision about whether to keep the baby was entirely up to her, and that he would support her either way.
Hill explained that she struggled immensely to make a choice, and thought she would end up keeping the baby. However, she ended up having a miscarriage. “I started sobbing with simultaneous tears of relief and sadness and guilt at feeling relief, and confusion at feeling sad, and just so much conflicting emotion and just the reality of being faced with that situation.” Hill said the experience further reierated her belief that a woman should have the right to choose.
5. Kenny Heslep Needed Surgery in 2010 Due to a Collapsed Lung & His Health Issues Influenced His Estranged Wife’s Political Views
Katie Hill explained on her campaign Facebook page that her husband’s former health problem signficantly influenced her views on health care in the United States. (She’s an advocate for universal health care).
In 2010, prior to their wedding, Kenny Heslep did not have insurance. He had recently begun a new job and was not yet eligible for this employer’s plan.
Heslep complained of chest pains and shortness of breath, but tried to avoid going to the doctor due to lack of insurance. The goal had been to wait until after their wedding, when he could be added to Hill’s insurance plan. But after Heslep could not even walk up a flight of stairs, he decided it would not be a good idea to wait to see a doctor.
The doctor told Heslep that one of his lungs had collapsed and he needed surgery. Rep. Hill explained in the video embedded above that the procedure and his 11 days in the hospital left them $200,000 in debt. They ended up moving in with Heslep’s parents in order to pay down the hospital bills.
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