Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., threatened legal action after a second conservative publication published a nude photo of her.
The Daily Mail, which has labeled a “generally unreliable” publication by Wikipedia editors, published a photo Thursday purporting to show a nude Hill holding a bong. The image was published just days after the conservative blog RedState published a different nude photo of Hill.
Attorneys representing Hill threatened to take legal action against The Daily Mail if the image was not taken down.
“This letter serves as notice that civil and criminal laws prohibit the publication of images of the character you have posted and that our client is prepared to take all necessary means to protect her rights and to protect herself from an unprecedented, unwarranted and extraordinary offensive invasion of personal privacy,” they wrote in a letter to the outlet.
Her attorneys also disputed a claim in the Daily Mail report that Hill had a “Nazi-era Iron Cross” tattoo.
“The claim that Representative Hill has Nazi imagery on her body in the form of a tattoo is false and defamatory,” the attorneys said. “We demand that you immediately cease and desist the publication of these abusive and spurious images. The continued publication by your outlet or others of these images will warrant legal response.”
The lawyers cited California’s “revenge porn” law in their letter, warning the outlet that “the California Penal Code accordingly makes it a criminal offense to ‘intentionally distribute the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person.’”
The Daily Mail’s publication of the photos came days after RedState published a photo of Hill in the nude while brushing a campaign aide’s hair. The blog also published screenshots of text messages from Hill and reported that she had a sexual relationship with a female campaign aide. The blog also alleged that Hill had a subsequent sexual relationship with a congressional aide, which she denied.
Hill is openly bisexual and in divorce proceedings with Kenneth Heslep, her husband of nine years. After the publication of the first photo, Hill alleged that Heslep had leaked the image and “seems determined to try to humiliate me.”
“The truth is, distributing intimate photos with the intent to publish them is a crime, and the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law,” Hill wrote in a letter to constituents this week.
Hill admitted to having a sexual relationship with a female campaign aide but denied that she had one with a congressional staffer.
"During the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage, I became involved in a relationship with someone on my campaign," Hill said in the letter. "I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment. For that I apologize.”
The House Ethics Committee announced that it would investigate the allegations that Hill “may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff.”
Hill told her constituents that she is “fully and proactively cooperating with the Ethics Committee.”
Hill said on Thursday that U.S. Capitol Police are also "investigating the situation and potential legal violations of those who posted and distributed the photos."
Hill, a 32-year-old freshman who won an upset victory in a traditionally Republican Orange County district in 2018, currently serves as the No. 2 Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. She could lose her committee assignment if the Ethics Committee determines that she engaged in a relationship with a congressional aide, which would violate a ban on such relationships imposed just last year.
Hill said in a statement that she was the victim of a “smear” campaign and “disgusted” that her opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain.”
“This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” she said. “I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid."