Morgan Desjardins is a California woman and campaign staffer for Democratic Rep. Katie Hill who was involved in a “throuple” relationship with Hill and Hill’s estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, while she was helping Hill get elected to Congress in 2018.
A throuple is a polyamorous three-person relationship. Hill said in a statement that it was a bad idea to be involved in a relationship like that with the then 22-year-old Desjardins and her husband, while Desjardins was a subordinate on her campaign staff, because of the power dynamic.
Hill, a freshman congresswoman seen as a rising star in the Democratic party, admitted to an affair with Desjardins, calling it “inappropriate.” She has denied having an ongoing affair with her current legislative director, Graham Kelly, who is a member of her Congressional staff. Hill has said her husband is attempting to “humiliate” her as they go through a bitter divorce.
The Daily Mail identified Desjardins as the staffer seen in nude photos with Hill, which were posted by the British tabloid and by the conservative site Red State. Hill has asked for an investigation into the leak of the nude photos.
Desjardins is 24 and from Santa Clarita, California, and is a graduate of UC Davis. The illicit photos were taken on September 11, 2017, around the same time Desjardins was hired by Hill as a staffer, The Daily Mail reports. In the pictures, Hill is seen holding a bong while naked, and showing off what appears to be an Iron Cross tattoo on her lower right hip, according to The Daily Mail.
In other photos, Hill, 32, is also seen in the nude while brushing Desjardins’ hair, in photo taken during a holiday trip in Fairbanks, Alaska.
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 about Morgan Desjardins:
1. Hill Put Out a Public Apology About Her Relationship With Desjardins
Rep. Katie Hill was elected in November of 2018 and represents California’s 25th District. She’s the first openly bisexual member of Congress, and also serves as the Vice-Chair of the House Oversight Committee. Her husband filed for divorce in July 2019, after he accused her with having an affair with Kelly, which she has continued to vehemently deny.
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.
On October 23, she wrote a letter to her constituents about her affair with Desjardins. She wrote, “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.”
Hill, Heslep and Desjardins were involved in a relationship for several months, according to The Daily Mail. Text messages obtained by the gossip site show that it ended after Hill won her election and moved to Washington D.C. In one message from Dejsardins to Heslep, Desjardins says, “I’m still a mess over you f*ckers,” and called their relationship, “toxic,” the British tabloid reporters.
“I didn’t realize how much being the dirty little secret bothered me,” Desjardins wrote in a text message, according to The Daily Mail. “It was a dark time and you treated me really poorly but I also stayed which I also have to own. The relationship was just not healthy.” She said the breakup was “crushing,” and added, “I am not going to be a toy for you on the weekends.”
Desjardins also said she had “nightmares” about her boss and former lover, and told Heslep she understood that one of the reasons for the breakup was political.
“I am still in love with her. It rips my heart out every time I have to see her or have someone say something nice about her,” Desjardins texted Heslep, according to The Daily Mail. “She doesn’t care or really have any concept of how deep the wounds go.”
2. Desjardins Has Earned Nearly $64,000 Working on Hill’s Congressional Team & Fights For Equal Pay
According to the Federal Election Commission, Desjardins was being paid as a consultant on Hill’s congressional team as recently as September 2019. Between the years of 2017 to 2018, she made roughly $50,000 as a senior staffer, and about $14,000 thus far in 2019 as a fundraising consultant.
In August on 2018, Desjardins wrote an article entitled “Bridging the Gap,” on Medium, which detailed the importance of equal pay between men and women, and included a direct quote from Hill. She wrote:
Frankly, to change these cultural barriers in the workplace, we need more women in office. As Katie says, ‘If we want a government more representative of the public’s values and perspectives, we need more women weighing in on all policy decisions.’… Working for Katie Hill has been an extraordinary opportunity. I am moved by the vast support of her campaign and the thousands of people donating and volunteering their time to help elect such a qualified candidate, ready to stand up for the issues that impact women and families, just as she has done throughout her career.
Hill shared a link to Desjardins’ article on her campaign Facebook page and wrote, “I am proud to employ young women who are dedicated to the fight for pay equity, especially for women of color and mothers. This is a fight I have taken on in my hometown and plan to bring all the way to Washington. #EqualPayDay”
3. Desjardins Was Featured in Vice’s ‘Inside the Most Millennial Campaign Ever’ Episode on HBO, Saying, ‘Politics Is Really Weird … You Never Really Know Who’s Telling the Truth’
When 30-year-old Katie Hill quit her job managing an organization that advocates for the homeless in Los Angeles to run for Congress in California’s 25th district, aiming take over one of the last seats in Los Angeles County held by a Republican, Steve Knight, her campaign received a lot of media attention.
In May 2018, HBO’s “Vice News Tonight” did a piece on Hill and her campaign in which Desjardins was heavily featured, along with Hill’s then husband, Heslap and staffer Graham Kelly. In the episode, which tracks what it’s like being a young woman running for office, Desjardins is almsot always by Hill’s side, with her official title slated as “operations director.” In the episode, she says around the five-minute mark, “Politics is really weird and you never really know who’s telling the truth.”
Kelly, who’s also featured in the segment said of Desjardins, “Morgan is the one who makes sure Katie gets places on time.”
4. Desjardins Grew Up in SoCal & Studied Biological Sciences at UC Davis
Desjardins was born in California to parents Nor Wizen Desjardins and Joe Desjardins, who’ve been married since Nov. 20, 2003. Her mother is originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while her father is American.
Desjardins grew up in Santa Clarita. She graduated from the University of California at Davis in 2017 with a degree in biological sciences. She was also an undergraduate researcher at UC Davis for biological sciences professor David Segal. In text messages obtained by The Daily Mail, Desjardins appears to mention that she was planning to go to medical school after her work on Hill’s campaign.
5. The Ethics Committee Is Looking Into Hill’s Affair With Her Current Congressional Aide
As per House of Representatives rules, members “may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner.” The House voted to implement this rule in 2018, following the rise of the #MeToo movement.
An Ethics Committee statement, which was issued on October 23, reads: “The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Katie Hill may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff, in violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 18(a),” the Committee said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”
The investigation is related to accusations Hill has been involved in an affair with Graham Kelly, her congressional staffer who serves as her legislative director. Kelly was also part of Hill’s campaign team. She has denied any wrongdoing related to Kelly. The investigation is not connected to the affair Hill admitted to having with Desjardins, which occurred before Hill was in office.
Hill also asked for an investigation into the nude photos of her that have been leaked and published online. Congressional investigators will be looking into that issue, and police in California could also probe whether the distribution of the photos violates the state’s revenge porn law.