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Rep. Katie Hill says double standards forced her out of Congress

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Anna Brech
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Representative Katie Hill

Outgoing Rep. Katie Hill says online threats made against her in the wake of leaked nude photos forced her resignation from office, in a clear case of double standards on Capitol Hill. 

Outgoing Rep. Katie Hill used her farewell address this week to highlight the “double standard” that forced her out of office. 

The California Democrat resigned on Monday, after right-wing media leaked nude photos of the congresswoman alongside claims that she had engaged in a series of affairs with members of her staff. 

In a resolute speech, Hill said she had been targeted by “the dirtiest gutter politics I’ve ever seen” with the unauthorised images, that had been distributed “for the sexual entertainment of millions”. 

She compared her treatment to that of President Donald Trump – “a man who brags about his sexual predation, who’s had dozens of women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault” – and yet who occupies “the highest office in the land”. 

This misogynistic culture works to “push a young woman out of power”, she said, while men accused of sexual violence continue to dominate the upper echelons of US politics.

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Hill said was forced out of her job in the wake of the wave of online threats against her and her family that followed the release of the nude photos online and in social media. She said her speech Thursday marked the first time she had left her apartment since the images were made public, adding, “I’m scared”. 

The Democrat stepped down earlier this week, after the far-right blog Red State and The Daily Mail published a string of damaging stories regarding her allegedly improper relationships with staffers, alongside intimate photos that she says were taken “without my knowledge, let alone my consent”. 

Hill has apologised for a consensual sexual relationship she and her husband had with a unnamed female aide in 2018, before she was elected to Congress. But she denies another media claim that she had an affair with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, while in office: an allegation that prompted an investigation by the House of Representatives Ethics Committee.

In her resignation letter, Hill accused her estranged partner Kenny Heslep of playing a pivotal role in the events of recent weeks. She said private photos were “weaponised” against her, as her political opponents worked to exploit the fact that she is divorcing “an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me”. 

She then used a video message to announce she would be fighting revenge porn, “to ensure that no one else has to live through what I just experienced”.

Congresswoman Katie Hill
Congresswoman Katie Hill says double standards forced her resignation

“I’m leaving now because of a double standard,” Hill said in her resignation address. “I’m leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip.”

She said her final act in Congress would be to vote to move forward an impeachment process against President Donald Trump, “on behalf of the women of the United States of America”.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.