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California Rep. Katie Hill resigns over allegations of affair

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By Tim Stelloh and Alexandra Moe  with NBC News Politics
Image: FILE - Rep. Katie Hill to resign from Congress
Hill last week apologized after admitting that she had a relationship with someone on her campaign. She denied that she'd had an affair with a staff member while in office.   -   Copyright  Zach Gibson Getty Images

Freshman Rep. Katie Hill is resigning amid an ethics investigation over an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a staffer.In a letter posted on Twitter, the Southern California Democrat attributed the resignation to an "abusive" estranged husband and "hateful political operatives" who she said were "driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation."Her resignation was first reported by Politico.The House Ethics Committee investigation of Hill, who was elected in last year's mid-terms, began after the conservative site Red State reported unconfirmed allegations about her personal life and posted a photo of her that it labeled "explicit."_Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics_She described the image as an "illegal" and "appalling invasion of privacy" that had been "weaponized" against her.

Hill last week apologized after admitting that she had a relationship with someone on her campaign. She denied that she\'d had an affair with a staff member while in office.
Hill last week apologized after admitting that she had a relationship with someone on her campaign. She denied that she\'d had an affair with a staff member while in office.Zach Gibson

"We are currently pursuing all of our available legal options," she said. "However, I know that as long as I am in Congress, we'll live fearful of what might come next."She added that she could no longer allow friends and supporters to "suffer this unprecedented brand of cruelty."Hill's estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.According to court documents obtained by CNBC, the two were married for nine years before Heslep filed for divorce in Los Angeles in July — one month after he said she told him she was leaving him.She took their "only operable vehicle and left me stranded at our residence," Heslep said in the documents.Heslep also claimed that he got multiple jobs at the organization where Hill had worked because of her "influence." He said he lost one of those jobs because Hill's employer was concerned about "nepotism and how it looked that she was my boss," the documents say.Last week, Hill apologized after admitting that she had a relationship with someone on her campaign. But she denied that the affair was with a staff member."I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment," Hill said. "For that I apologize."Hill, who was the executive director of a homeless services organization before her election, is the freshman class' co-representative to the Democratic Caucus' leadership meetings.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.