Oct 31, 2019
Rep. Katie Hill gave her final remarks on the House floor on Thursday, a week after nude photos of her were published by right-wing media outlets which the congresswoman charges were provided by her estranged and abusive husband.
The California Democrat expressed outrage at the "double standard" which dictated that she resign from her House seat over alleged ethics violations involving a sexual relationship with a campaign staffer--while a number of Republican men including President Donald Trump have remained in power amid ethics scandals, alleged abuse, and criminal accusations.
"I will never shirk my responsibility for this sudden ending to my time here," Hill said. "But I have to say more because this is bigger than me. I am leaving now because of a double standard...I'm leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching."
Hill alleges that her husband, who she is divorcing, leaked private photos and text messages to RedState. The outlet reported that the congresswoman may have had inappropriate relationships with a campaign staffer and her legislative director.
"This doesn't happen to male members in the same way--revenge porn in this respect. It's horrific. I don't think we're really talking about how targeted and serious this is. We're talking about a major crime...being committed against her."
--Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
Hill admitted only to having an "inappropriate" consensual relationship with a campaign aide. Such a relationship is not a violation of Congress's code of conduct but, many critics acknowledged, can constitute an abuse of power.
As the Los Angeles Timesreported, Hill believes that her husband and GOP operatives linked to Steve Knight, the Republican she defeated in 2018, engineered a plot to remove her from power.
The congresswoman announced her resignation on Sunday, a move which reportedly caused a rift in Congress.
"This doesn't happen to male members in the same way--revenge porn in this respect. It's horrific," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), told Politico. "I don't think we're really talking about how targeted and serious this is. We're talking about a major crime...being committed against her."
Ocasio-Cortez added that the incident will "of course" deter women from running for office.
In an interview with Vox, Brianna Wu, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, agreed:
Young women today may be looking at Hill's situation and thinking, "What if my ex-boyfriend publishes these pictures of me?" Wu said. "I think it has a really chilling consequence on who is allowed to run for office and who isn't."
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) also decried the "double standards" that apply to men and women in Congress, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), a vehement ally of Trump, came to Hill's defense, calling the controversy "just absurd."
Democratic leadership, on the other hand, has done little to publicly defend Hill. On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly appeared to blame for her husband's distribution of her photos without her consent.
"It goes to show you, we should say to young candidates, and to kids in kindergarten, really, be careful when transmitting photos," Pelosi said in a private meeting with party leaders.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party remains aligned with Trump, who, as Hill noted in her final speech, stands accused by more than 20 women of sexual assault and harassment.
"A man who brags about his sexual predation, who's had dozens of women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault...sits in the highest office in the land," Hill said.
The GOP has also rallied around Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who stands accused by prosecutors of using campaign money to pay for dates during multiple affairs--including with a member of his staff and a lobbyist. Hunter remains in office today, months after the allegations were made in court filings.
Hill gave her speech just after House Democrats voted to endorse the impeachment inquiry against Trump, and noted that her final act as a congresswoman was to support the inquiry.
"Today as my last vote, I voted on impeachment," Hill said. "Not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice, or gross misconduct, but because of the deepest abuse of power, including the abuse of power over women...I voted to move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump on behalf of the women of the United States of America."
Watch Hill's entire floor speech below:
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