TUSTIN, California — The estranged husband of Katie Hill, who resigned from Congress after nude pictures of her were posted online, told his parents he believed he had been hacked just before the images were published.
Hill, a Democrat from California's 25th District, resigned Sunday after the conservative website Redstate published text messages and photos suggesting the lawmaker had been in a sexual relationship with a woman staffer on her campaign, as well as a male worker in her congressional office.
Redstate and the Daily Mail also published nude photos of Hill, raising questions about their origin.
In a message to supporters, Hill called the incident a "coordinated campaign carried out by right-wing media and Republican operatives," as well as her "abusive husband," Kenny Heslep.
It's unclear what role Heslep — who is currently in the middle of a divorcing Hill and has publicly accused her of sleeping with a male staffer — may have played in the scandal, but his father told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that Heslep believed he had been the victim of hacking before the images were released.
"He was hacked is what he says," Fred Heslep said when contacted at his home in Southern California.
When asked if his son had a role in distributing the images, he added: "He says no."
Fred Heslep also said his son did not reach out to authorities after suspecting he was hacked.
"I think he started having computer issues, so that's what made him think it was a hacking," he said.
Neither Kenny Heslep or his attorney immediately responded to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment.
Accusations of sexual impropriety against Hill were first published by Redstate on Oct. 10, after Heslep ranted in a Facebook post about his estranged wife. Redstate republished the post, which has since been deleted, showing Heslep accusing Hill of sleeping with her male finance director — an accusation that prompted a Congressional ethics investigation.
But more than a week before that, Heslep was offering some form of information about his marriage to local media. Stephen Daniels, host of the Talk of Santa Clarita podcast, said he received a message from Heslep on Sept. 17.
"Any interest in an interview, and the whole story yet? 🙂" Heslep messaged at 1:40 a.m.
After another message the following night, screengrabs of which were reviewed by BuzzFeed News, Daniels declined to get involved in their personal dispute, particularly as Hill was involved in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Daniels told BuzzFeed News he wasn't sure what Heslep meant by the "whole story."
"He never clarified what he means by that, and honestly, I have no idea what is going on with these relationships," he said. "I just thought he wanted to air his dirty laundry."
Daniels has interviewed Hill multiple times on his podcast and, during the campaign, Heslep had also pitched a show involving candidates' spouses. Daniels said he considers Hill a friend of the show and alerted her office over concerns of receiving late-night messages from her husband amid what appeared to be a difficult divorce.
In another message on Sept. 30, Heslep described his financial difficulties after being cut off by Hill and added he hadn't spoken to her since the separation. He also made vague accusations about "many other things."
"I know how my claims sound, but I have more than ample evidence to support my statements, and then some. But oh well I guess..." Heslep wrote.
Heslep told Daniels he remained a fan of the podcast but added a postscript.
"[S]creen caps of this conversation to be making an appearance soon!" he wrote.
To Daniels, that seemed to make clear Heslep was working with some other media outlet.
"He's clearly shopping this around and saving stuff to make people look bad," Daniels told BuzzFeed News. "It was a plan on his part."
Since her resignation, Hill has vowed to take up the fight against "revenge porn," though she didn't explicitly accuse her husband of releasing the images.
On Wednesday, her father, Michael Hill, told ABC News Heslep should be prosecuted.
"The fact that Kenny Heslep would do such a thing is unfathomable and appalling, especially considering that they were together since Katie was in high school," he said.
The host of The Talk of Santa Clarita is Stephen Daniels. An earlier version of this post misstated his name.