Katie Hill, Congress, Partner discussed on Vox's The Weeds
We did we did hung up wow this is going to be a great podcast we did hung up hello welcome to another episode of the weeds if Katie Hill sort of the the other scandal that is being partington and this is this is not the most characteristic move the weeds as ever pulled let's up pivot away from serious issues of of National Security Law and congressional procedure to talk about what could be described as a sex scandal but it has say more broad relevance this trump Ukraine thing I think we'll probably not recur whereas we're hills situation raises a lot of questions that I think are dealt with all the time and we'll be on a continuing basis so for those who who don't know this story Kenny Hill is young first year member of Congress she beat a Republican in two thousand eighteen and this is one of the is like California suburban seeds that had swung kind of hard for Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton the Republican incumbent got reelected in twenty six and then she beat him she's I think thirty thirty three years old song like that one of the youngest members of Congress you know was like a an interesting rising star in that sentence had been not just a rising star are in the point in the sense that like a lot of freshmen members of Congress have gotten a lot of media attention because they're kind of a younger generation and various things but like house leadership had actually like appointed her to a position the caucus kind of rising gas is one of the the official freshman delegates I'm not not a media star in the sense of the squad people but the the next generation of like mainstream Democrats and then it all started to unravel as red state began publishing stories that she had had an affair with a staffer that she and her husband had a threesome with the staffer it's more complicated than that because they were apparently engaged in a poly-amorous relationship that the husband was aware of the like as far as we know and it it's complicated because there are a lot of pieces to the story and there have been kind of the way that conservatives have interpreted it was like this is a clear cut case of someone misusing their power over a subordinate or perhaps to subordinates and then from people liberal perspectives is yes that was bad but also the publication of photographs of her that were clearly weaponized to be the most embarrassing thing especially in a political context you know the most embarrassing photographs possible and the fact that there were allegedly at least seven hundred photos given to g cooperatives in California the fact that a lot of the photos now I it's important because I keep getting this confused when trying to track the story is that there is a campaign staffer with whom Hale was apparently in engaged in a relationship also with her husband who he has acknowledged and said like it was inappropriate but yes you know I take responsibility for it right then there is hills male legislative director Graham Kelly who who is who red state reported on October eighteenth and the you know the story went fr to red state Breitbart a California based conservative website and the Daily Mail and when it goes Daily Mail that's one everything got pretty blown up but he'll has denied having a relationship with the legend slate of director and interestingly to me is that all of the photographs and everything about this was all focused on the female campaign staffer with whom the relationship would be a very bad idea but would not technically break house rules apparently she went on to work on with her in office which would also be a bad idea but a lot of the seemed to be weaponising one hill hill is Bisexual will she's talked a lot about that and it seemed to be weaponising that which is actually something that representative Matt Gaetz picked up on WHO's actually been one of the most outspoken advocates for Hill and saying that this is all happening because of an acrimonious divorce from hills husband and because Katie Hill is different because she's queer but there a lot of different moving parts of the story Dr. heard you take an intake I mean there is a lake the question of the how the kind of house ethics rules as a v very very relevant one here and it's not my understanding is that it's not quite as clear cut as as long as it's just a campaign for she's in the clear lake was not explicitly against House ethics rules for member of Congress to have a relationship with a sexual relationship with a staffer until last year he's that that definitely is explicitly beyond the Pale however the house ethics committee has also kind of established that it does have jurists fiction over potential ethics violations in successful congressional campaigns so whether this particular thing would rise to the level of you're going to be sanctioned because of behavior that happened before you arrived in the house is kind of Indus specific case not super clear but it's not it's not as clear cut as she's admitted to the thing that couldn't get her kicked out or couldn't get her sanctioned and you know there there we also don't know what the House ethics investigation found because it was obviously like still ongoing at the time resigned now it's going to shut down because she resigned it's mood it is I think interesting that there is kind of split between their relationship we have pictures for in the relationship we don't write the alleged relationship their relationship he's admitting to in the relationship she's denying or the alleged relationship she's denying rather and lake the fact that the photos are in the context of an explicit photo of two women in what might have been a situation where they were taken by van and whereas the clearcut ethics violation if it existed would be a heterosexual relationship and I'd also want to add in that and we'll we'll talk more about the revenge porn angled though I really hate that term because it's I mean the term we use because I think that the you know the listener all kind of know what we're talking about but I don't like it and I if people have other suggestions I want to hear about them there are attorneys for former representative hill who are now getting involved offshoot a legal team of Marc Elias Rachel Jacobs from the firm Perkins Coy who you may have heard of and they they sent a season desist to the daily mail they've sent letters to other publications especially because the Daily Mail implied that she had a Nazi Tattoo based on some of the photographs because again this is the daily mail this is kind of what the I do so I think that there are a lot of different moving pieces to this story my first reaction when I saw the when when when these allegations came up was is to just purely take kills side of it and you know almost in a spirit of like like you go girl like you know that this stuff has been going on on for for a long time and and sort of who who cares and you know I talked to some people and they sort of talked me out of that position it's in fact like bad to be doing this Members of Congress should not be having relationships with their staffers it's a very vulnerable position shen the unusual gender dynamic here is interesting as subplot but doesn't fundamentally change the issue and that you know I mean a a reaction that I've seen from a lot of people on twitter is like a Ha- like this is a double standard a woman is being punished for something we know male members Congress have done a lot over the years which is absolutely true but I do think it's relevant that the house like literally adopted new rules about this last year right and the time those rules were being adopted I think most people thought that was a good change there was a collective statement on the part of the House of Representatives that a form of viewer that was known had been going on and that had like was bad and should stop and when you change the rules like there there has to be a first case of enforcing the new rules and like yes it sucks to be the person who is subjected to the new harsher rules when other people have gotten away with it but like that's that's what changing the rules means and you know on that level like that that is good to see it establishes precedent that so hopefully we'll be of some use in the future that said like the aspect of this that has to do the photos and stuff is terrible but also I don't it does seem like a bit of a red herring like misconduct here is real genuinely not sure that that's I mean I think that in order to know that for sure we would have to run the counterfactual where the photos don't come out and see if she's still ends up resigning and if not we're at the ethics investigation sets I think it's relevant that she doesn't resigned when the investigation gets open she resigns after the photos come out and like that's relevant both because she was not taking you know just like putting your head down and going home. She resigned signed with a very clear statement that what had happened to her in terms of the photos being publicized was a miscarriage of justice and she said that she's going to due to work on this issue like quote unquote revenge porn nonconsensual intimate photo sharing which is really unfortunate acronym now that I think about it so you can kind have you know it did give her if not like not not an out but certainly a way to resign without looking like she was accepting that she had done things raw. I'm not sure that you that she would have resigned. The photos hadn't leaked just because I've seen enough cases where having visual evidence gives the story legs and gives people like you know makes it no longer a he said she said kind of thing makes people feel that there is in fact quote unquote proof that one party is in the right and the other party is in the wrong and that's where I get a little bit into like it's not that I think it's it's obvious that there are male members of Congress who have done identical things and haven't been punished under these new rules I do however think it's interesting that the first time that this comes up in such a way that house ethics has to engage is in the context of an acrimonious divorce with a partner who hill says was abusive and like we don't have a lot of details on that that's not to say that she's obligated to provide them certainly the fact that they're it seems very very plausible and more likely than not that heels husband was involved in the leaking of the photos is list of evidence that he may not have her best interest at heart right now to say the least and I do wonder if that part of the story plays out the exact same way if it's a mailman of congress I think that there is an opportunity to play into ideas of women and specifically bisexual women in positions of power being you know being sexually manipulative and sexually promiscuous that made it obvious that photos like this hurt Katie Hill in a way that maybe they wouldn't have heard a male member well and especially again that the photos are of the female partner the alleged male partner and if.