Just days after Republicans flipped a Democrat-held congressional seat in a special election triggered by a sex scandal, another House Democrat faces an Ethics Committee investigation into a sexual relationship with an intern.
Nevada Democrat Steven Horsford admitted to an ongoing affair with an intern for then-Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
“It is true that I had a previous relationship outside of my marriage, over the course of several years,” Horsford said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’m deeply sorry to all of those who have been impacted by this very poor decision, most importantly my wife and family. Out of concern for my family during this challenging time, I ask that our privacy is respected.”
Sexual relationships between Members of Congress and staff are prohibited by House rules, and are grounds for investigation and potential discipline.
California Democrat Congresswoman Katie Hill resigned from Congress to avoid an Ethics Committee investigation after admitting to affairs with multiple staffers, setting up a special election to fill her seat which was won by Republican Mike Garcia.
The Committee may now investigate Horsford.
“Americans for Public Trust, a nonpartisan government accountability organization, requested the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) launch a full investigation into Horsford,” The Washington Free Beacon reports. “The investigation would determine whether he offered money to or used the power of his office on behalf of Gabriela Linder, an intern with whom the congressman admitted to having an affair.”
“Representative Steven Horsford’s concealment of an ongoing affair implicates an abuse of his official position and potentially federal law. His use of financial payments, staff time, and repeated run-ins with legal obligations betray the public trust,” a letter from the group to the Ethics Committee states.
“Ultimately, his conduct for the past ten years destroys the credibility of his office and fails to maintain the integrity of the House. Therefore, we respectfully urge OCE to investigate this matter and any potential violations of federal law and standards of House ethics.”
If Hosford were forced to resign or face a toughened re-election because of ethical or legal violations, it could flip another House seat from Democrat to Republican.
His seat, Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District, is only marginally Democrat. Horsford won the seat in 2012 then lost to Republican Crescent Hardy in 2014. Hardy was defeated in 2016 by Democrat Ruben Kihuen.
But Kihuen, himself crippled by allegations of sexual misconduct, did not seek re-election in 2018. Horsford then won a rematch with Hardy for a second, non-consecutive term.
It’s unlikely voters would want to deal with two sexual scandals in two elections and could send Horsford packing again.