Democratic Rep. Katie Hill gave her final speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday (October 31) after announcing she would resign from her seat earlier this week.
“I came here to give a voice to the unheard in the halls of power. I came here to give a voice to the unheard in the halls of power,” she said. “I wanted to show young people, queer people, working people, imperfect people that they belong here because this is the people’s house. I fell short of that and I’m sorry. To every young person who saw themselves and their dreams reflected in me, I’m sorry.”
Hill decided to resign from her seat on Sunday (October 27), after right wing media orchestrated a revenge porn attack against her by posting her personal photos without her consent. Revenge porn is illegal in the District of Columbia, and punishable by jail time.
The House Ethics Committee has been investigating her alleged relationship with a staffer who worked on her congressional campaign, since sexual relationships between members and their aides is against House rules. Hill admitted to having a relationship with one of her campaign staffers, which is not explicitly against the rules, and said this relationship only took place before she took office (the staffer did not work with Hill in Congress). She has denied all allegations that she had a relationship with her legislative director, which would violate House rules.
“I will never shirk my responsibility for this sudden ending for my time here, but I have to say more because this is bigger than me,” Hill said in her speech on Thursday. “I am leaving now because of a double standard. I am leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip. I’m leaving because I didn’t want to be peddled by papers and blogs and websites; used by shameless operative for the dirtiest gutter-politics that I have ever seen; and the right-wing media to drive clicks and expand their audience by distributing intimate photos of me, taken without my knowledge, let alone my consent, for the sexual entertainment of millions. I am 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 claims that her ex-husband helped right-wing media publish the revenge porn; her ex-husband’s parents say his computer was hacked, according to Buzzfeed News.
“I am leaving because of the thousands of vile threatening emails, calls, and texts that made me fear for my life and the lives of the people that I care about. Today is the first time that I’ve left my apartment since the photos, taken without my consent, were released. And I’m scared. I’m leaving, because for the sake of my community, my staff, my family, and myself I can’t allow this to continue. Because I have been told that people were angry when I stood strong after the first article was posted, and that they had hundreds of photos and text messages that they would release bit by bit until they broke me down to nothing until they used my faults and my past to distract from the things that matter most.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Thursday (October 31) in a news conference before Hill’s speech that being “exposed to public humiliation by cyber exploitation” is “shameful,” adding, “countless women across Americans have been subjected to this type of harassment and abuse, which is a profound violation of those women’s rights.” At least ten million Americans have been targeted by people looking to weaponize revenge porn against them; while the act is illegal in 46 states and Washington, D.C., there is no federal law prohibiting the acts or protecting the victims.
On Thursday morning, the last time Hill cast her vote, it was to support the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
“I’m leaving because there’s only one investigation that deserves the attention of this country,” she added. “And that’s the one that we voted on today.”