Katie Hill’s Shaming Should Spur Congress to Act on Shield Act

Yesterday, Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA) gave her final speech in Congress as she was forced to resign after her estranged husband and political rivals published nude photographs of her and (so far) unsubstantiated allegations that she had violated House rules by having an affair with one or more Congressional staff members.¹

Hill’s resignation and farewell speech vividly depict the damage wrought by revenge porn and why it is often described as “digital rape”.  Hill’s account of spending days at home in isolation is not uncommon with stories I have heard from other victims.

To her credit, prior to the scandal, Hill was one of 39 co-sponsors of H.R. 2896, the “Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution Act of 2019” or the “SHIELD Act of 2019”, which would make distribution of revenge porn a federal offense.  Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has introduced the Senate companion S. 2111 which has only two cosponsors.

While the Shield Act is a bipartisan measure, with four Republican cosponsors, it is worth noting that

  • 38 of Hill’s California House Democratic colleagues and Senator Dianne Feinstein have yet to join as co-sponsors of the bill;
  • the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the bill and is chaired by Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass, has yet to hold a hearing or take any action on the legislation; and
  • this is the third Congress in which revenge porn legislation has been introduced and yet no action has been taken.

As my former colleague, Rep. John Katko stated at the press conference introducing the Shield Act, “shame on us in the federal government for not taking the lead on this. It’s incumbent upon us as legislators to say, ‘This is not right.’”  The unlawful shaming of Rep. Hill should spur her colleagues to follow Rep. Katko’s lead and say “this is not right”.

I am urging Hill’s California Democratic colleagues to at least step forward and join as cosponsors of the Shield Act and for Chairwoman Karen Bass to hold the first federal hearings on revenge porn legislation.  I have listed their phone and Twitter contacts for those who wish to do the same.

District Name Phone Twitter
31st Aguilar, Pete (202) 225-3201 @reppeteaguilar
44th Barragán, Nanette (202) 225-8220 @RepBarragan
37th Bass, Karen (202) 225-7084 @RepKarenBass
29th Cárdenas, Tony (202) 225-6131 @RepCardenas
27th Chu, Judy (202) 225-5464 @RepJudyChu
39th Cisneros, Gilbert Ray Jr. (202) 225-4111 @RepGilCisneros
46th Correa, J. Luis (202) 225-2965 @reploucorrea
16th Costa, Jim (202) 225-3341 @RepJimCosta
21st Cox, TJ (202) 225-4695 @RepTjCox
53rd Davis, Susan (202) 225-2040 @RepSusanDavis
11th DeSaulnier, Mark (202) 225-2095 @RepDeSaulnier
3rd Garamendi, John (202) 225-1880 @RepGaramendi
34th Gomez, Jimmy (202) 225-6235 @RepJimmyGomez
10th Harder, Josh (202) 225-4540 @RepJoshHarder
2nd Huffman, Jared (202) 225-5161 @RepHuffman
17th Khanna, Ro (202) 225-2631 @RepRoKhanna
13th Lee, Barbara (202) 225-2661 @RepBarbaraLee
49th Levin, Mike (202) 225-3906 @RepMikeLevin
19th Lofgren, Zoe (202) 225-3072 @RepZoeLofgren
47th Lowenthal, Alan (202) 225-7924 @RepLowenthal
6th Matsui, Doris O. (202) 225-7163 @DorisMatsui
9th McNerney, Jerry (202) 225-1947 @RepMcNerney
32nd Napolitano, Grace (202) 225-5256 @GraceNapolitano
20th Panetta, Jimmy (202) 225-2861 @RepJimmyPanetta
12th Pelosi, Nancy (202) 225-4965 @SpeakerPelosi
52nd Peters, Scott (202) 225-0508 @RepScottPeters
45th Porter, Katie (202) 225-5611 @RepKatiePorter
48th Rouda, Harley (202) 225-2415 @RepHarley
36th Ruiz, Raul (202) 225-5330 @CongressmanRuiz
38th Sánchez, Linda (202) 225-6676 @RepLindaSanchez
28th Schiff, Adam (202) 225-4176 @RepAdamSchiff
30th Sherman, Brad (202) 225-5911 @BradSherman
15th Swalwell, Eric (202) 225-5065 @RepSwalwell
41st Takano, Mark (202) 225-2305 @RepMarkTakano
35th Torres, Norma (202) 225-6161 @NormaJTorres
51st Vargas, Juan (202) 225-8045 @RepJuanVargas
43rd Waters, Maxine (202) 225-2201 @RepMaxineWaters
Senate Feinstein, Dianne  (202) 224-3841 @SenFeinstein

Footnote 1:  I understand that Hill and her husband had a relationship with one of Hill’s campaign staffers, but I have yet to see substantiation of any improper relationship with anyone on her Congressional staff.