Rep. Katie Hill threatens legal action over nude photos

By John Bresnahan

Attorneys for Rep. Katie Hill on Thursday threatened to bring legal action against a British tabloid for posting what it claims are nude photos of the freshman California Democrat.

Hill’s legal team — Marc Elias and Rachel Jacobs of the firm Perkins Coie — also suggested Hill was defamed over a report by the Daily Mail that she has a Nazi-inspired tattoo on her body.

In a cease-and-desist letter to Candace Trunzo, executive editor of the Daily Mail, Elias and Jacobs demanded that “you remove these photos from publication at once.” The newspaper ran a series of intimate photos of Hill and a former campaign staffer with whom it said she had an affair before Hill won her seat in Congress. Hill, who is going through an acrimonious divorce, has admitted to an “inappropriate” relationship with a female campaign staffer and apologized to her constituents over the matter.

Hill, however, has denied having a sexual relationship with her male legislative director, Graham Kelly. The conservative website RedState.org. reported that allegation initially on Oct. 18 and published a nude photo of Hill. The Hill-Kelly relationship was purportedly uncovered by Hill’s husband, Kenny Heslep. There is no proof that an improper relationship between Hill and Kelly — who also worked on her campaign — occurred. The House Ethics Committee is investigating the issue.

The 32-year-old has asked the U.S. Capitol Police to look into whether any criminal laws were violated by release of the photos.

The Daily Mail followed RedState’s initial report with the release of an array of intimate photos of Hill on Thursday, including one of her using a bong while naked. The Daily Mail did not respond to requests for comment about Hill’s threat of legal action.

“You have also exposed your publication to grave legal consequences for California has some of the strongest criminal laws in the United States against the secretive generation and distribution of private, sexual images,” Elias and Jacobs asserted in their letter to the Daily Mail. “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.’”

In one photo, the Daily Mail reported Hill had a “Nazi-era tattoo.” Hill’s attorneys strongly denied this accusation and suggested the publication might have defamed her.

“The claim that Representative Hill has Nazi imagery on her body in the form of a tattoo is false and defamatory,” Elias and Jacobs 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.”