LAS VEGAS – Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford of Nevada on Saturday acknowledged he had an extramarital affair with a woman who said the on-and-off relationship began in 2009 before ending last September.
Horsford, 47, in a statement released to The Associated Press responded to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had an affair with Gabriela Linder, who previously had shared her story on podcasts and Twitter posts through a pseudonym before she was interviewed Friday by the newspaper.
“It is true that I had a previous consensual relationship with another adult outside of my marriage, over the course of several years," Horsford said the statement. “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.”
Horsford's House bio says he and his wife have three children.
A spokeswoman for Horsford indicated he does not plan to resign, as at least one Republican opponent suggested.
In 2018, Horsford won back the 4th Congressional District seat that he first held for one term before losing a reelection bid in 2014. He is running for reelection in the swing district that leans Democratic and extends from Las Vegas through largely rural areas of southern and central Nevada.
Linder told the the Review-Journal she was 21 and an intern for then-Sen. Harry Reid in his Las Vegas office when she met Horsford, then majority leader of the Nevada Senate.
During the course of the relationship, Linder said, Horsford offered her financial support and introduced her to political connections.
Linder said her sexual relationship with Horsford took place between 2009-10 and 2017-2019, though they remained in regular contact throughout the decade. She said her son was the result of a different relationship during a period when she and Horsford were not seeing each other. This spring, which was after when Linder said the relationship ended, Horsford filmed a segment about the COVID-19 pandemic for her young son’s YouTube show using Horsford’s congressional staff.
Linder told the Review-Journal she was publicizing her past relationship with Horsford as “an empowering journey” and now realizes Horsford used his status as an older, powerful man to take advantage of her and control her.
She said she wasn’t trying to damage Horsford politically but believes he should end his bid for reelection. “He obtained this position under false pretenses that he was a family man and man of God. He should take a step back, atone, and if people are satisfied, then he can come back into politics.”
Horsford spokeswoman Shelbie Bostedt said Linder “never worked for Steven in any way, shape or form" and Horsford never used campaign or official funds to provide financial support to her.
“This former personal relationship has no bearing on the congressman’s ability to fight for the people of Nevada and he fully intends to serve them in this Congress, and beyond," Bostedt said in a statement provided to the AP.
The 4th District was created in reapportionment after the 2010 U.S. Census and the seat has changed hands in each of the last three elections.
Five lesser known candidates have filed to challenge Horsford in the 2020 Democratic primary while eight Republicans and a Libertarian filed to run for their nominations. The Republicans include former Nevada Assemblyman Jim Marchant, Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo and Lisa Song Sutton, a business owner and former Miss Nevada.
Sutton on Saturday called for Horsford to resign from Congress and for the House Ethics Committee to investigate his conduct.
Sutton noted that then-Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a one-term Democrat, did not run for reelection in the 4th District in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment.
“This seat has been plagued by distractions and scandals by men who cannot stay focused on their responsibilities because they are too busy chasing women,” Sutton said. “Horsford is not fit to lead us. His family will be in my prayers.”