WASHINGTON • A Democratic lawmaker from California is under congressional investigation amid allegations that she had a three-way affair involving a Capitol Hill aide.
The House of Representatives Ethics Committee launched the inquiry after conservative blog RedState reported last Wednesday that 32-year-old Representative Katie Hill, who is bisexual, had engaged in a three-way consensual romance that involved her husband and a female campaign aide.
It also published a nude photo, allegedly of Ms Hill, and said she was in a romantic relationship with a member of her congressional staff, the accusation the Ethics Committee is investigating.
Ms Hill has acknowledged that she had been in an "inappropriate" relationship with a campaign aide but she has denied that she had a romantic affair with a congressional staff member, which would be against the House's code of conduct.
The Washington Post reported that her lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter last Thursday to DailyMail.com, demanding that the publication remove from its website nude photos it claims are of the congresswoman, and threatening legal action if it refuses to do so.
The site had published a story about her personal life, which included naked photos it said were of Ms Hill, including one it claimed shows her with a Nazi-era tattoo.
The attorneys, who addressed their letter to Ms Candace Trunzo, executive editor of DailyMail.com, said the publication sent Ms Hill a message before publication asking whether she wished to comment on its "professed intention to distribute lewd images of her, of unknown and unverified provenance".
They wrote that Ms Hill's now estranged husband had been emotionally abusive for years and that "in spreading these purported claims and dehumanising and shaming images across the globe, you have perpetuated the cycle of abuse Representative Hill has endured", reported the Post, which obtained a copy of the letter.
Ms Hill and her husband Kenny Heslop have filed for divorce.
Ms Trunzo did not respond to the Post's request for comment. Neither did Ms Hill's attorneys.
Ms Hill is a freshman rising star in the Democratic Party who won a Republican-strong seat last year to help the Democrats take the majority in the House.
She is a junior member of the Democrats' leadership team, and has a powerful post on the House Oversight Committee.
In their letter, her attorneys cited California law against distribution of private, sexual images as well as libel laws, contending that the website's claim that Ms Hill has "Nazi imagery on her body in the form of a tattoo is false and defamatory".
The attorneys also commented on the emotional duress the publication has caused the congresswoman, writing: "No one - not Representative Hill, not anyone else - should ever be expected to endure a publication like that which she has suffered today."