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Former Rep. Katie Hill's Husband Revenge-Porned Her, The Daily Mail Helped, And Now She's Bankrupt
Well ain't this the pits.
It’s hard not to cover the ongoing spectacle that’s Rep. George Santos without recalling former Rep. Katie Hill, the Democrat who resigned barely a year into her first and only term. She wasn’t charged with multiple felonies nor had she claimed she was a producer for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Her “crime” was a consensual relationship with a staffer, which came to light as a result of her ex-husband sharing nude photos of Hill with right-wing garbage publications without (obviously) her consent. She didn’t go through the whole ethics committee process, because the revenge porn was only going to get worse. So, she resigned, and Democrats lost a rising star and a seat in a swing district that Republican Mike Garcia still holds. (Democrats keep running professional House seat loser Christy Smith against him.)
So, what’s happened to Katie Hill since she left office?
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Hill filed a lawsuit against her scumbag ex, the Daily Mail, and RedState, who had all profited in their own way from “non-consensual porn.”
[Hill’s lawyer Marc Elias] argues that the Daily Mail’s publication violated several laws, including California’s criminal and civil revenge porn laws. He also states that the tabloid rag defamed Hill by likening her tattoo to Nazi regalia and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the congresswoman.
Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled on April 7, 2021, that the Daily Mail was protected under the First Amendment when it published nude photos of Hill, which Orozco agreed were “a matter of public issue or public interest.” My admittedly, non-law-talking opinion is that’s bullshit. Yes, it’s a public issue and of public interest that a member of Congress allegedly violated House ethics rules — although, it’s twisted irony that new House rules in response to John Conyers’ history of sexual harassment would first snare a woman for a misguided yet still consensual relationship — but there’s only prurient interest in the public seeing Hill’s naked body. The article is just as damning and we’re no less informed if the Daily Mail simply reported that Hill had an affair with a campaign staffer. Also, we only have the word of Hill’s dirtbag ex that she had an affair with her legislative director, which she denied. She admitted to a relationship with a campaign staffer, which itself was not a violation of House ethics rules, so there was never any actual “public interest” in the Daily Mail publishing intimate photos of Hill and that campaign staffer!
But the naked photos helped the Daily Mail sell more copies of its rag, and the overall revenge porn had the desired political impact of ruining Hill’s career. As Jamie discussed in detail back in 2019, this was always going to prove an uphill battle for Hill, but it was an important fight. You might’ve expected Hill to lose, but it got worse: Judge Orozco also ordered Hill to pay roughly $220,000 in legal fees, including about $105,000 to the Daily Mail’s parent company for what Hill ruefully described as “the privilege of them publishing nude photos of me obtained from an abuser.” She was also on the hook for about $84,000 to the attorneys for RedState managing editor Jennifer Van Laar and about $30,000 to radio producer Joseph Messina’s counsel.
As a media outlet without massive resources, we can understand wanting to discourage nuisance suits against publications, especially when the intent is to chill free speech. However, this particular situation is just sickening. Hill wasn’t pulling a Donald Trump, who sues anyone who writes anything bad about him. She was personally wronged and her privacy violated. She’d already lost her job and reputation. Simply losing the suit should’ve been enough.
Hill filed for bankruptcy for last year. I’m embarrassed it got that far and that I haven’t written about Hill since 2019. Kyle Rittenhouse raised an additional $200,000 in March to help fight additional lawsuits he faces for killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Daniel Penny killed a man on the New York subway, and right-wingers donated $2.9 million for his defense within weeks.
Also, if Lauren Boebert’s Beetlejuice antics had forced her out of office, Republicans would never let it go. They’d remain forever out for blood, just like how they keep going on about Robert Bork. Sometimes I wish we were as petty as conservatives or at least more forgiving to ourselves. Right now, at least, I’m gonna buy Hill's memoir through a Wonkette cut link.
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