Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford on Friday acknowledged that he’d carried on a longstanding affair with a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid who has detailed the relationship in a series of podcast episodes and on Twitter.
The woman, Gabriela Linder, told the Review-Journal that she is “Love Jones,” the pseudonym of a person who first began sharing her story through a public podcast, “Mistress for Congress,” in April. The podcast and a related Twitter account have relayed what she claims are various details of the affair, including a purported screenshot of a message exchanged between Horsford, D-Nev., and Linder in 2018.
She agreed to an interview with the Review-Journal on Friday. She said Horsford offered her financial support, introduced her to political connections and filmed a segment for her young son’s YouTube show using his congressional staff.
Reached for comment on Linder’s allegations on Friday evening, Horsford provided this statement:
“It is true that I had a previous relationship outside of my marriage, over the course of several years. 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.”
Linder said the affair began in 2009, when she met Horsford — then the majority leader of the Nevada state Senate — during her time as an intern in former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada office. She claims she met Horsford at an event then later arranged to meet him through a friend.
They had a sexual relationship that continued intermittently until September 2019, Linder said, though the two remained in contact until April. Linder never worked for Horsford in any capacity.
On April 1, Horsford appeared on a children’s YouTube show hosted by Linder’s young son. Linder asked Horsford to appear by calling him on a personal phone, and not through his office, she said. (Linder says on her podcast that she had her son while in another relationship while attending law school at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a period when she and Horsford were not seeing each other.)
The video shows Horsford speaking broadly about politicians and their role during the COVID-19 pandemic in what appears to be his Washington, D.C., congressional office. Linder said his staff shot the video with him and sent it to her.
Linder and Horsford stopped speaking shortly after the appearance, she said.
In total, she said, their sexual relationship took place between 2009-10 and 2017-2019, though they remained in regular contact for the entire decade.
Linder stressed she was not seeking to damage Horsford during an election year, but rather sees her podcast as “an empowering journey” as she moves on from the relationship. She said she was not paid any money to produce it, nor was she asked or contacted by any candidate in Horsford’s 4th District race. She said she was writing a book about her experience.
Linder does, however, believe Horsford should end his bid for re-election.
“If this was a story in 2018 (when Horsford successfully recaptured the seat after having lost it in 2014), he wouldn’t have run,” Linder said. “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 represented the 4th District from 2013 to 2014, when he lost his re-election bid to Republican Cresent Hardy. He won the seat back in 2018, after then-Rep. Ruben Kihuen decided not to seek re-election because of sexual harassment allegations.
Horsford has been married since 2000 and has three children.
Ending the relationship
Linder also claimed she broke off her relationship with Horsford, whom she said had discussed leaving his wife for her but could not do so during the 2020 election season.
“I decided I can’t wait, deserved more and didn’t want to be that person anymore,” she said. “And I realized someone who could lie that way is not someone who would be honorable to me.”
During the third episode of her podcast, Linder said Horsford “looked out for her over the years, from anything from a job recommendation to financial support.”
In her interview with the Review-Journal, Linder declined to elaborate on this support. As an attorney, she said, she worried saying anything further could get her caught up in divorce proceedings should Horsford’s marriage be dissolved. (State Bar of Nevada records show no one with her name is licensed to practice law in Nevada.)
Reached for comment Friday night, a Horsford aide said Linder “never received any compensation from the congressman or from the campaign over the course of their private relationship.”
“This was a private relationship of the congressman’s and this was in no way related to his public office,” the aide said.
Linder said that as far as she knew, Horsford never used campaign funds or money from his state Senate or congressional accounts to purchase anything for her.
‘Loyal to a fault’
Linder, who was a 21-year-old senior at UNLV when the relationship began, claims she now realizes that Horsford, who was 36 at the time and is now 47, used his status as an older, powerful man to take advantage of her and control her. He never explicitly asked her not to tell anyone, she said.
“He knew how in love with him I was, and he knew what he could do and get away with,” she said. “He knows I would support him. He never told me to keep quiet. He didn’t have to. He knew I was loyal to a fault.”
She said she now has a “disdain” for men in politics who fail to support women. She hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale to women who participate in or even seek out similar relationships with older, powerful men.
Linder said she recently reached out to Horsford through her publicist to have him appear on her podcast. She told the Review-Journal she has an email on her personal account purportedly from Horsford that pointed her to a Washington, D.C., attorney, Howard Schiffman.
She said Horsford told her he thought they were resolving the situation amicably, and that failing to do so would be damaging to everyone.
Linder plans to release a new podcast episode on Sunday.