Yesterday, Rep. Katie Hill stood in front of her colleagues in the House of Representatives. It was the first time she'd left her apartment since the release of intimate photos taken of her without her consent.
She started with apologies: "This is the last speech that I will give from this floor as a member of Congress," she said. "I wanted to show young people, queer people, working people, imperfect people that they belong here. ... I fell short of that and I'm sorry. ... To every little girl who looked up to me, I hope that one day you can forgive me."
Hill, a Democrat, chose to resign less than a year into her term representing a flipped California district after conservative media published the intimate photos alongside allegations of two inappropriate relationships: one with a staffer in her House office (a violation of new rules imposed after the rise of #MeToo) and one with a campaign staffer. Hill admitted to the campaign relationship (calling it "inappropriate") but denied that one took place after she was a member of Congress. The House Ethics Committee was set to investigate her before she announced her resignation.
New reporting from the LA Times yesterday revealed how Hill's ex-husband shopped around the story of their relationship, which Hill has said was abusive, and how GOP operatives who worked with former Rep. Steve Knight, whose seat Hill won in 2018, were behind the first stories.
Hill, as she acknowledged, made serious mistakes. But that does not justify the repulsive decision to weaponize those personal photos against her—an action that is likely to have consequences that reach far beyond the soon-to-be ex-congresswoman.
Hill said in her speech that she chose to resign because of the "misogynistic culture" that "fears and hates powerful women" and "gleefully consumed" naked pictures of her; because of the threatening messages she received; because of the revenge porn's effect on her staff, family, and friends.
It's exactly the kind of nightmare situation that can scare women—and especially young women, with personal digital histories that predate their time in public life—from running for office. No matter your political party, the calculation is the same: What if sensitive photos or information get out—is it worth it? Hill addressed that concern head on, "Keep running for office," she said to women watching.
Hill, whose last day is today, ended her speech by calling out the hypocrisy of the system at large: "I'm leaving, but we have men who have been accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all in the Oval Office." Her last vote in Congress was in favor of the House's impeachment inquiry. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by the way, said it was "shameful that [Hill has] been exposed to public humiliation by cyber exploitation.")
"I yield the balance of my time today, but not forever," Hill ended her farewell address. The congresswoman has said she plans to do activist work against revenge porn, which means we'll likely be hearing from Hill again soon—on her own terms.
The Broadsheet, Fortune.com, November 1, 2019
Here is Katie Hill’s speech to the House of Representatives:
WATCH: Rep. Katie Hill's full farewell speech on House floor www.youtube.com
November 1, 2019
Voices4America Post Script. My Opinion- Katie Hill should un-resign. We already know that shaming she received was the work of GOP operatives like Steve Knight. GOP convicted felon George Papadopoulos has announced he is running for her seat. Watch her speech. #KatieHill4CA