WASHINGTON — Representative Katie Hill, a first-term Democrat widely considered a rising star in her party, on Tuesday denied reports that she had a sexual relationship with a member of her staff, but refused to comment on an allegation that she was intimately involved with a campaign aide, saying that a nude photograph of her and another woman was published on the internet without her consent.
Ms. Hill, 32, of California, made her comments in a brief interview and a statement in response to a report on the conservative news site RedState alleging that she had been intimately involved with her legislative director and a young campaign aide while married to her husband, whom she is divorcing.
Members of Congress are barred by House rules from engaging in sexual relationships with their aides, but the rules do not cover campaign staff. Ms. Hill said the photograph, which appears to show the congresswoman seated and brushing the hair of another woman, was the subject of a police investigation.
“Intimate photos of me and another individual were published by Republican operatives on the internet without my consent,” Ms. Hill said in the statement.
“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,” she said.
Ms. Hill said that the stories, which she called “a smear campaign,” were being driven by Republican operatives and a “husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” and that she had spoken to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenant, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, about the matter. Mr. Hoyer declined to comment, and a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said the speaker was on her way to Baltimore on Tuesday for the funeral of her brother.
Ms. Hill, who campaigned to make history as the first openly bisexual congresswoman from California, unseated a Republican, former Representative Steve Knight, in the so-called blue wave that carried Democrats to power in the House in 2018. She is a favorite of Ms. Pelosi, who named her vice chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, an unusually high-ranking position for a freshman on a panel that is playing a crucial role in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.