Katie Hill’s Resignation Saved Her from Facing #MeToo Law She Claimed to Champion

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19: Katie Hill speaks onstage at the 2019 Women's March Los Angeles on January 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles )
Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles

Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) came to Congress riding a wave of women who touted “progressive” credentials that would bring change to the country, including advocating for women’s rights.

Hill — an outspoken critic of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and a married women who claims to be bisexual — resigned suddenly last Sunday after naked photographs of her and a female campaign staffer and rumors of a sexual relationship with a Congressional aide surfaced.

Hill said her estranged husband, who also was in a three-way relationship with Hill and the campaign staffer, provided those “revenge porn” photographs to the media.

Ironically, Hill departed before she could have faced scrutiny under new laws Congress put in place in the wake of the #MeToo scandals of recent years that led to a number of members of Congress stepping down after sexual misconduct allegations were lodged against them — all of them men.

The Daily Beast reported on an impending investigation:

Last Wednesday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was aware of allegations that Hill “may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff,” meaning Kelly, in violation of a House rule on employee relationships, and that it was beginning an investigation.

In an email to constituents the next day, Hill apologized for her confirmed relationship with the campaign staffer, writing: “I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment.”

In December, 2018, NBC reported on the #MeTwo legislation that President Donald Trump signed into law, including prohibiting lawmakers from having sexual relationships with their staff:

The measure holds members of Congress personally liable for awards and settlements stemming from harassment and related retaliation they personally commit, including those who leave office. They can no longer pay out settlements with taxpayer funds and would be required to foot the bill within 90 days or their wages could be garnished.

In addition to holding lawmakers personally accountable, it would also require the public reporting of a settlement, including naming the member of Congress who paid the settlement. It also provides “an advocate” for victims who file complaints in the Senate and in the House the victim is provided legal representation, similar to one provided to the lawmaker who is being accused of harassment.

The agreement aims to cut down on the processes that deter a victim from moving forward with a claim, including a previously required 30-day “cooling off” period, the 30-day “counseling” period and the mandatory arbitration, which victims and their attorneys have said was more of a interrogation instead of an arbitration.

The new law updates the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act that governs harassment claims in Congress.

The law also expanded protection for short-term workers in Congress such as interns and fellows.

“These changes will provide the congressional workforce with the resources and protections they deserve, while making members of Congress more accountable to the constituents they serve.,” the victims’ advocacy groups Congress Too and the Purple Campaign wrote in a statement including in NBC’s reporting.

NBC reported:

The #MeToo movement spread to Congress in 2017 when Speier spearheaded the #MeTooCongress movement by sharing her story of sexual harassment from her time as a Congressional staffer and inviting others to do the same.

Real Clear Politics reported on how Hill’s fate brings the idea of presumed innocence and due process full circle:

Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots who strongly defended Kavanaugh during last fall’s confirmation battle, said Hill is now learning the hard way why the presumption of innocence is so important to our democracy.

“Sadly, Katie Hill is learning first-hand why the values we defended when Brett Kavanaugh was being accused are so vital to our society: presumption of innocence, due process and the impossibility of defending oneself in the court of public opinion,” she told RealClearPolitics.

In fact, Hill was one of the Democrats who quickly validated even the most salacious of sexual charges against Kavanaugh at the height of his confirmation battle. She labeled him a “serial predator” in several tweets and stood up for Julie Swetnick, the third woman to come forward against the nominee, accusing accuse him of participating in high school parties at which women were “gang raped” and made “disoriented” with alcohol.

“Julie Swetnick risked everything to come forward with her story and she is not alone,” Hill tweeted in September 2018. “This is not about the Supreme Court, this is about believing women and protecting survivors. I’ve lived this reality, and I know why so many of us never report.”

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